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Guest Post by Artist Susan Shulman

This is the second part of a dispatch from a visit to Europe by the three artists of the Seeking Kali Collective (Part 1 here). Today, artist Susan Shulman recounts what she saw in Paris -- including a visit to the apartment of the legendary Matthew Rose.

Musee Maillol, Paris

The week I spent in Paris was a non-stop cornucopia of art adventures. One of the highlights was to see the vast collection of Artemisia Gentileschi's painting at the Musée Maillol. I had admired her work for many years and was struck by the mystique surrounding her life, and the challenges she faced being a woman master painter in the 17th century. She was born July 8, 1593, and died approximately January 1654. She was apprenticed to and trained by of one of Rome's greatest painters, her father, Orazio Gentileschi. His style of painting was heavily influenced by Caravaggio and so was hers. Agostino Tassi, a colleague of her father, raped Artemisia at the age of 18 and these charges became public. During the trial, the courageous testimony by Artemisia and her father brought to the forefront the plight of violence against women. In many of her paintings she chose to portray woman as heroines, woman with power and beauty. Each "in-your-face" large narrative contained technical skill, boldness, and passion. Room after room of these majestic oils drew me into their settings with drama unfolding before me.

Danae, by Artemisia Gentileschi (photo: Nemo Stepanovitch)

Then I found myself standing before a spectacular smaller work entitled: Danaë, from 1612. Danae was the princess of Argos and mother to be of Perseus. Zeus impregnated her in the guise of a shower of gold, depicted by the coins in the painting. I was mesmerized by how this painting represented that arousing moment. I stared at the soft surface of delicate skin tones, shadowing,  bold coloring depicting the magic of the folds in the bedding and the maid's clothing. The representation of the gifts from the heavens in select places and the boldness of the pose of the nude, shown in complete ecstasy while trying to be composed, created many ambiguities.

From left: Susan Shulman, William Evertson, Ria Vanden Eynde, Matthew Rose

We spent an evening of fine food, wine and art-talk with American artist and writer Matthew Rose at his Paris residence. His art encompasses collage, printmaking and sculpture. Our art collective of Seeking Kali would never have occurred if not for the exhibition “A Book About Death”, which was curated and conceived by Matthew. “A Book About Death” took place at the Emily Harvey Gallery in New York City on September 10, 2009. The project paid homage to the late artist Ray Johnson's mail art project of the same name. 486 artists participated in the exhibit by providing editions of 500 postcards on the theme of death.  The cards were displayed in hundreds of boxes lining the floors of the Foundations gallery space on Broadway. Visitors were allowed to compile their own unbound Book About Death to take home with them. LACMA, MoMA NY, MoMA Wales and Mube, each have complete sets, as do many galleries around the world. After the first exhibit was over, new ABAD exhibits moved to international venues. The show has continued to be shown at various galleries and museums, all exhibiting the original installation and others by adding additional artists.

Ria, William and I were part of this original show that transformed our lives forever, and we continue to participate in all the new ones. Matthew’s show was paramount in the sense that many long-time mail artists met for the first time and bonded from this event. William and I had individually both met Matthew at the New York show, but at the time did not know each other even though we were in the same room, at the same time. The magic was brewing before we were aware. I had noticed Ria Vanden Eynde’s cards and thought what an amazing artist, never imagining I would one day meet this Belgian artist and begin an experiment in long distance collaborative art with her and William.

So, here we were in Paris. This was only the second time meeting with Matthew in close to three years and only the second time that Ria, William and I were actually in the same city. The first time was in New York City, September 2011, an anniversary to the ABAD shows. In this eclectic apartment in Paris, we were surrounded by Matthew’s outstanding collections of collage and assemblage works. The art was displayed wall-to-wall in every room. I felt we were part of an installation. Matthew’s narratives were flying off the walls, staring at us from every angle. We leafed through his books of collage works in his inner sanctum. The nostalgic and surreal imagery was intriguing and exciting, inviting stories to unfold off each folio. Matthew showed us some rare personal correspondence from Ray Johnson. For a few hours we were immersed in the world of Matthew Rose.  He is currently showing at jaggedart in London.

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