Saturday, December 24, 2011

PIOUS MISBELIEF

My dear, articulate friend David Schoffman has started something of a cottage industry, traveling around Latin America and the United States delivering lectures on Micah Carpentier. I find it somewhat disconcerting that not only has he converted the memory of our beloved comrade into a piddling revenue stream but he has also decided to apply a bit of revisionist art history into the mix.

from The Song of Degrees, Micah Carpentier 1992
 I don't recall ever hearing David criticize Micah's work when Carpentier was alive. Quite the contrary. He was more of an apple polishing groupie, a fawning bootlicker, a groveling flunky, maybe even a bit of a doting yes-man. 

Never critical.

The clip below strikes me as being a bit odd. Recorded recently at Gerstein Hall in downtown Seattle, Schoffman begins his talk with a bit of gentle belligerence. I'm told by a few colleagues who were in attendance that what followed was 55 minutes of uninterrupted bile.

  Micah Carpentier Lecture, Gerstein Hall, Seattle, 2011 (fragment) by dschoffman 

Micah Carpentier

Micah Carpentier Retrospective, Musée  d'Art Contemporain, Côte-Nord

Micah Carpentier



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

LOWBROW MEETS LOWBROW

 
The capacious intellect of my dear friend David Schoffman is only matched by his infinite insecurities. How little he has developed both emotionally and stylistically is in full evidence with the recent publication of Behind The Grey Tail, a heavily redacted collection of David's private journals.


"Diaries," wrote the Slavic poet Rada Mladen, "are the last refuge of the ignored," and I can think of no better description of these 756 monotonous pages of self-absorbed reflection. Schoffman's "insights" give new meaning to the word ordinary. His flat, tedious prose present a near insurmountable obstacle to even the most assiduous reader. 

The only thing that kept me plowing through this turbid text were the many (I believe there are over 500) references to me.

Here are a few examples:

November 11, 1986. Paris
A low wind whispers near ... Currado and I have just returned from a short sojourn in Istanbul. I crumble under his shadow ... the littering leaves of autumn turn the sounds of Paris into a fanfare of snare drum and cymbal. Currado speaks eloquently of Gide ... I scarcely understand.

March 21, 1990. New York
Malaspina's triumph is my collapse. I am annihilated, ruined, silenced by his swaggering domination of the New York artworld. Danto, Smith, Kimmelman, Perl, Kramer, Hickey - they are all falling over themselves singing panegyric homilies, tossing perfumed bouquets at an already bumptious braggart. I can't stand it!!!!

June 1, 1992. Rome
It seems the Malaspina name still has some currency here. It got us a terrific table at La Pergola where the seared tuna with friggitelli is absolutely amazing! 

Only the most devoted Schoffman fans (are there any left?) need explore this book. Save your shekel and wait till the movie comes out. No kidding! The rights were just sold to Crepuscular Pictures for a whopping six figures with serious talk of Dee Martenelli playing the lead.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

THAT'S SHOW BIZ


The Gasp of Love in Terza Rima, a tawdry exhibition I agreed to participate in with my vain and sensitive friend David Schoffman was a bit of a succès de scandale.

I'm afraid David felt a bit slighted by the critical community because ... I suppose ... 

I upstaged him.

Tant pis!

 

Saturday, December 03, 2011

THE HEBRAIDIAN MANUSCRIPT (FM XXI. BUDAPEST)


What do you call a counterfeit forgery?

Tucked like a kitten in a woolsack, a strange fourteenth century document was discovered in 1983 in a dank neglected corner of the St. Vitruvius Monestary in Vitebsk. What became known later as the Herbraidian Manuscript is perhaps the oddest and most beautiful Hebrew text in the Ashkenazi world.

from The Hebraidian Manuscript, circa 1311, Courtesy of the Budapest National Archives

The authenticity of the document has been questioned for years, most recently by professor Ivan MacKaulski of Bar Ilan. In his essay The Hebraidian Hoax published last month in the Heartfelt Institute's highly regarded periodical Bididut he cites, among other things, the peculiar floral pattern which, though commonly used by Tuscan scribes in illuminated haggadot and ketubot, are rarely seen before the early 1600's. Additionally, the text, which appears to be some sort of legal contract, is written in the Havineri script, a typography popular in Bukhara and Cochin but never before seen in western Europe.

Truth be told, outside a small circle of pointy-headed intellectuals, nobody knows, much less cares about any of this obscure, hermetic Judaic scholarship. Which brings up the subject of my sneaky, sneaky friend, David Schoffman.


Schoffman is known and in fact prides himself on his uncanny ability to invent novel compositional devices using an encyclopedic reservoir of deeply original imagery. To quote Francis Peterson-Post, Dandridge-Oxford professor of Art History at Emory University, "Schoffman ... creates out of whole cloth a catalog of icons and simulacrum that never borrow, import or repeat. He alone, in the tradition of Blake, Beckett and Basnique, is an island of aberrant inventiveness and singular ingenuity."

I hate to hurl cold water over this harmless myth but the painting reproduced below, a 2004 oil on canvas by David Schoffman which was exhibited at MOCA's Sublime Particular exhibition (curated by Peterson-Post and Stephanie Borastow-Kahn) is much more than a direct descendant of the Hebraidian masterpiece/forgery.

The Wrinkled Lip of Kings, David Schoffman 2004, oil on canvas 145" x 138"










The image speaks for itself but unfortunately the liberal borrowings do not end there. Schoffman's famous Bartholomew Diptych, the massive mosaic commissioned by Grenoble International is practically a carbon copy of Batsu's Rekishi Parchment in the Okazaki Temple. At least in that instance Schoffman had the decency to cover his tracks and make his work en grisaille. Danton Was Right, the series of twelve lithographs published by the Académie Bibliothèque in 2000 was a brazen appropriation of the illustrations of Canadian artist Kaniuk Foreman.

The list goes on and on. 

David Schoffman ... J'accuse!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

SPOOKY SEX

My innocent, foolish friend David Schoffman has a weakness for cranky, crackpot, paranormal street prophets. Some who find the temporal world unsuited to their temperament find the consolations of philosophy and art adequate surrogates for their metaphysical urges. Not so my transcendent colleague David. He's always on the hook for some astral eccentric, some empyrean swindler or some sacerdotal grifter.

Hence his fascination with the beautiful and clairvoyant  Dahlia Danton.

Schoffman and Danton at the Fénelon Seance, 2010
It started many years ago.

As a young, inexperienced artist trying to make his way in Paris and New York, David visited 'Betina,' the famously beguiling reader/advisor whose small studio on Cour du Commerce St.-André was a favorite refuge for the rudderless and homesick. Tucked away between rue Saint-André des Arts and the boulevard St.-Germain, Betina's had everything one might expect in a soothsayer's lair: crystal balls, wicca sticks, tarot decks, runes, ouija boards, show globesHessian cruciblespendulums, mystic oracles, scrying mirrors, inlaid mother-of-pearl divining rods and scores of other obscure and beautiful objects.


The proselyte Schoffman was always powerless to the seductions of paraphernalia.

He put great trust in Betina and when she predicted in 1979 his future mid-career retrospective at the Musée des Objets Oubliable, he became a life-long dewy-eyed disciple of augury and the occult. (The show, in fact, did take place, though not exactly at the predicted location. In 1998, Schoffman had a fairly comprehensive exhibition at Milan's famous Museo delle Palline da Dimenticare).

Many years have past and Betina has long since retired to her ancestral village in western Romania.  Schoffman replaced her with a series of equally charismatic and equally counterfeit heavenly hucksters, the latest being the wily Los Angeles artist, Dahlia Danton. 

A skeptic may attribute his newfound affiliation to this relative novice in the art of strange sacrament  to Danton's soft, spectral skin, her dark hair faintly scented with saffron and rose petal, her moist pink lips which she always keeps slightly ajar, even when silent and her rough throaty voice suggestive of mutual conspiracy and unearned intimacy. 

The skeptic would probably be right. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THE SLIPPERY SONGSTER


Cagey and cryptic, my furtive friend David Schoffman almost never opens his Los Angeles studio to visitors. Curators, collectors and critics all clamor for an audience but to no avail. Schoffman's irrational and self-defeating petulance hold a staunch vigil to his caprice. Those who do manage to pierce the rampart are a priesthood of strange and select dissenters. 

So to whom does this bald head belong?


 Stopping in Los Angeles while touring with the Royal Bismark-Bialystok Radio Orchestra, Irish tenor Briac Scott Bertelsen (a mutual friend of both David and I) and his son Deverell were granted a short visit. Known for his discerning eye, wayward wit and irrepressible rendering of Ponchielli's Cielo e Mar, Bri's enviable access to Schoffman's Sanctum Sanctorum is seen by many as a provocation.

Bertelsen, whose very public profile inspires the type of speculation worthy of a Kremlinologist, is a pawn in Schoffman's perverse assault on the connoisseur class. When his recent visit was reported in the press (the anonymous source being Schoffman himself), embers of antagonism were rekindled from California to Irkutsk. The banished and the blackballed were irate at what was seen as the tenor's unwarranted access.

Deverell Bertelsen, Schoffman and Briac Scott Bertelsen, Los Angeles, 2011

When asked later about the state of Schoffman's work, the cunning crooner crowed with rapacious delight, "... not at all bad ...  menacing though inconclusive... a bit strange, yes ... perhaps even revolutionary ... perhaps not."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THE COOL, COOL SOUNDS OF JAZZ

It's rare but from time to time my purist compatriot David Schoffman agrees to allow one of his pieces to be used for commercial purposes. A few years back the State Department put one of David's "Imagined Spaces" drawings on the cover of its Third World Infectious Diseases brochure. The Times published a caricature he did (on a dinner napkin from Laconda Verde) of George Soros . He designed the wedding invitation for the Crown Prince of Lemuria (for his first marriage) and most recently he let legendary tenor Meyer Limon use a painting for his most recent CD, "Prevention Beats the Cure" on EPI Records.

Cover art for Meyer Limon's 2011 EPI release "Prevention Beats the Cure"

Limon is an interesting cat, a sufi mystic who practices Vedic Yoga, speaks fluent Ladino and does freelance consulting work for the IT division at Sony. He has played and recorded with all the greats, most recently touring southeast Asia with the Barry Berry Trio. His 2007 recording, "Buddha and Neruda" was nominated for a Latin Grammy and the current CD with Schoffman's art on the cover recently went platinum.


Meyer Limon 2010, (Photo courtesy of EPI Records)



I recently heard Limon play at Le Caveau on rue Renault and he was smokin'. I'm always stunned how some heroin addicts are able to retain their vital genius, remain active and actually thrive.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

INSPIRATION FOR AMATEURS


Nibbling on a croque-en-bouche the other day with my sweet-toothed friend David Schoffman, the subject of Jewish mysticism came up. We were seated on the terrace of Felix Café am Bellvevue, a place where old Europe strains against the pressures of western gastronomical prudery. "Zurich always brings out my thaumaturgical urges," Schoffman garbled through a tongue tied with oozing caramel, "it's a place where tallis and talisman melt into an incoherent gush of personal melancholy.

study for Birkat Cohanim II, 1997

Pressed on the issue, he continued.

"I've been rereading the essays of the great philologist Mario Robitosen. He has a great quote regarding apostasy, calling it 'the midwife of staunch assurances.' I ruminated on this strange categorization for weeks until I finally realized that it was, at its very root, utterly meaningless. It was then when the future of my work became clear to me."

Schoffman's studio - Los Angeles, 2009

This piqued my curiosity and upon returning to Paris I picked up a copy of Robitosen's seminal work The Ethics of Accident and Bad Luck.

I found it almost completely unintelligible.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Don't Encourage Him!


I'm not at all sure why but there is a lingering fascination with all things Schoffman. From his sordid and sloppy personal life to his mercurial, temperamental and I dare say, simple-minded intellect, the inner workings of this most ordinary man remain vividly alive to a small sect of avid enthusiasts.

Case in point, the following:


?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

IT DOESN'T MATTERHORN



The Guttenfarbenhiet, Zermatt
The Guttenfarbenhiet is one of the oldest and dustiest libraries in the world. Located in Zermatt, Switzerland, the Guttenfarbenhiet boasts the largest collection of Bezae Papyrological Manuscripts in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is said that Honoré Freiberg, author of the greatly admired though seldom read "Notes on Feigned Melancholy" (Hinweise zur Gefälschte Melancholie), holed up in the library's windowless tower, developed a fatal urinary tract infection, denying nature's call for hours on end, immersed in his study of the Septuaginta.


My good friend, David Schoffman is currently serving as scholar in residence at this historic and august locale. He is allegedly doing research on the history of 18th century Northern Italian underdrawing, a deservedly neglected area of expertise.

I doubt very much if David is denying himself the reliable pleasures of micturition, his being of more sustainable eccentricities. He would just as soon luxuriate within the library's vertiginous gardens, sipping Xellent vodka disbursed in shallow ponds of fresh Turkish cranberry juice.


Danton & Schoffman 2011
I heard from multiple sources that a turbulent tryst is raging beneath the Alps. Dahlia Danton, just "passing through," has parked her dazzling derriere at the luxury Hotel Musil in Salgesch, just a few lazy kilometers from David's delectus.  



Dahlia + David - Delectus = Distraction

Friday, October 14, 2011

FOUL PLAY

The Lubyana Biennial is a hodgepodge of pladitudinous trifles, yet for some inexplicable reason most artists would press their first-borns into forced farm labor in order to be featured in this sprawling, rudderless exhibition. My dear friend David Schoffman is, unfortunately, no exception.


David Schoffman's Slominsky's Revenge, winner of the 2011 Principium Sapientiae

Through an intensive lobbying campaign engineered by his Paris dealer, Claude Doulachet-Vichy, David was represented in this year's extravaganza with a small room of six new paintings. Included in the group was not only the image above (Slominsky's Revenge) but also the much admired monumental picture Preponderate Deliverance.

It should come as no surprise that with a curatorial team rigged with Schoffman apologists that David was awarded the enviable Principium Sapientiae Prize, a distinction that comes with a handsome honorarium of 10,000 rubles.

It is no secret that Felix Anaximander, in addition to being the chief art critic of the Salonika Times is also an avid collector of Schoffman's work. Meno Hesiodic is the author of Schoffman, Carpentier and the Envy of Innocents (Crayfish Press 2008). Raquella Sans-Gabon was David's Montossori middle school principal before she reinvented herself as a specialist of contemporary art at Sotheby's.

This illustious trio can scarcely claim dispassionate objectivity!


The Curators from left to right: Felix Anaximander, Raquella Sans-Gabon, Meno Hesiodic 
This sort of insider wheeling and dealing must stop!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

THE LURIANIC JOURNALS


Like many Latin American avant-gardists of the 1960's, Micah Carpentier held an irrational yet insatiable fascination with all things mystical. From the bleating orthodoxies of Madame Blavatsky and the bifurcated "Fourth Way" of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky to the Shemtovian ecstasies of the lame and thaumaturgic Dovber of Mezritch, Carpentier was all over the metaphysical map. Every impulse and every epiphany was duly notated and illustrated in small, secret sketchbooks, hidden away in a dusty corner of his Havana studio.


Discovered in 2004 by his nephew Miroslav Carpentier-Mirabel, what later became known as the Lurianic Journals have finally been made public.


My good friend David Schoffman and I are currently in Montenegro devouring this new trove of Micah's work. We are thrilled to be reassessing and debating our impressions as well as revisiting our rivalries and mutual suspicions. We have resolved old conflicts only to cultivate new and equally passionate resentments. We are drinking heavily and eating rich, Slavic foods.


We are having a great time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

DIPLOMACY

People of good intention attribute to the work of my friend David Schoffman metaphors and meaning that at times stretch the limits of credulity. There is an entire cottage industry of Schoffman studies, parsing signs and innuendo from his published essays, his interviews and his lectures trying to assign a neat, fixed and coherent theory to his variegated oeuvre.

Where The Maronites Are, oil on canvas, Schoffman 2011

Some see in David's work a visual reflection of Lessing's Philotas and the moral and ethical questions of self-sacrifice. Others argue that Schoffman's obsession with patterns and repetition are simply stunning restatements of Pythagorian tetractys. I attended one lecture in Zurich by a renown art historian who claimed that David's life's work was nothing less than an eloquent refutation of Lacanian jouissance and the erogenous circle. 

 I have known David for over thirty years and though he remains as opaque to me now as he was when we were young I believe I have a unique window on his artistic sensibilities. Therefore I believe that the following improbable theory may indeed be the one closest to the truth.   

Rachel Fax-Grote, professor emeritus of Semiotic Choreography at the University of Wales recently wrote in a much publicized paper entitled "The Poetics of Real Estate," that the obscure and idiosyncratic forms that appear in Schoffman's recent panel paintings, if read correctly, redraw the contentious maps of the Middle East.

Judea and Samaria, oil on canvas, Schoffman 2011
Ms. Fax-Grote, when discussing the piece above, was uncertain whether the dark areas were to be part of Israel or part of Palestine but she seemed reasonably convinced that the small, light, box shapes were were meant to signify either international peacekeepers or future locations of Starbuck's.

Friday, September 16, 2011

CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION


In Paris, magazines aren't that big a deal. Yes, our kiosks are stocked with countless glossy editions catering to the variegated tastes of my countrymen but it is nothing like the United States. Fashion, sports, politics and gossip are pretty much all that the Gallic imagination can sustain. In America by contrast, every marginal interest has at least several periodicals devoted to it. Shrewd Investor, Video Game Review, Vegan Kitchen, Poker Chips and Tips, Farm Equipment Times and Better Triceps are among my favorite examples.

When I visit Los Angeles I love to trowel the voluminous newsstands of Hollywood hoping to stumble upon some esoteric niche. At one place I found no less than three magazines on the subject of solar panel de-installation, six colorful journals on Latin American economics and fourteen lushly photographed monthlies on the affluent Southern Californian "lifestyle."

The one that stuck out most conspicuously was a tasteful, understated issue called California Domicile. The reasons for my interest (and disappointment) are obvious.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ethicum Perplexus


In the early eighties my altruistic friend David Schoffman volunteered at the L'Hôpital St Rocco pour les Aliénés Criminels in Bastia. This picturesque asylum, directly across the street from the Church of San Giovanni Battista offers Corsica's most enviable view of the island of Elba. It was there where David conducted an unguided, unsanctioned experiment upon an entire ward of rapists, murderers, arsonists and sadists. It was there where he completed his now famous, one-hundred and twenty paneled painting "Les Cinglés de Créer."

Les Cinglés de Créer, oil on 120 panels, David Schoffman and Ward Seven, 1988
In 1988 "art therapy" was a questionable discipline in Europe and the idea of organizing an unruly and undisciplined group of criminally insane inmates into an oil painting workshop was thoroughly unthinkable. David never bothered to propose the project to the hospital's notoriously conservative director, Dr. Maurice Etourdi.

Instead, he merely smuggled the necessary material into St. Rocco's laundry facility, a place where the most violent inmates were sent to work, and secretly instructed them on the finer points of color theory and "fat on lean" paint application.

The stunning results are self-explanatory but Schoffman has kept the work secret until now. Fearing damaging litigation, the work was known only to a small group of trusted friends and colleagues. Now that Dr Etourdi is dead, Schoffman, in conjunction with the Musée des Anomalies Moderne in Arnaudville, has decided to make the work public with a comprehensive exhibition with full and complete factual (if embarrassing) disclosure.

Now it is left to the public to make a fair ethical accounting of the genesis of this amazing work of art.

Friday, August 12, 2011

FORTUNE WINKS


Fabrice Batya-Soulle, associate dean of the Collège de Maritime's School of Theology in Coutelle-sur-Marne is an estimable scholar and an original thinker. Author of 23 books and countless articles and essays, Batya-Soulle may be best known as the part-time lover of both Tanya Bar-Kochba and Dahlia Danton. He is also the world's foremost collector of the works of my friend, David Schoffman.

Fabrice Batya-Soulle, 2007 Dahlia Danton

In cannot be claimed by any standard of honest measurement that Fabrice is an attractive man. He bathes irregularly, his crooked teeth are ochred by years of chain-smoking and his disheveled appearance gives the impression of one who has just stirred from a park bench nap. His success with stunning women must be attributed to something else.

Tanya Bar-Kochba
 His connection to Schoffman is even more mysterious. As most of my readers know, David is a profligate and unprincipled gambler. A frequent visitor to the lush and disreputable casinos of Corsica and Greece, David has won and lost many small fortunes throughout the years. Never one to abstain from a lively game of Lansquenet, Texas Holdem or Piquet, Schoffman is well-known for his unscrupulousness and dishonesty.

He apparently met his match in Fabrice Batya-Soulle.


I have heard at least ten different accounts of their notorious encounter, each one varying only in its details. The basic outline is as follows: 

David, finding himself at a distinct numerical disadvantage at the Punto Banco table at either the Xanthi or the Rodos Casino was spotted 100,000 € by Batya-Soulle who was engaged in a spirited debate with a cocktail waitress nearby. Within minutes the ill-starred Schoffman was in hock to the esteemed theologian. Agreeing to meet the following day to settle their affairs, the two parted amicably after a late cocktail at a nearby saloon.

It is hardly worth mentioning that my afflicted friend David failed to show up at their appointed meeting - the professor held no such expectation. True to form, Schoffman contacted his new-found benefactor through an intermediary. He proposed making good his debt with a suite of small drawings newly completed for his much anticipated exhibition at Mokousis/Martin, scheduled for the following month.


The cunning academic quickly agreed, with the added condition that Schoffman include the phone number of the lovely Miss Danton. 
The show was canceled, David was dropped by the gallery and the professor enjoyed a prolonged tryst with one of the most beautiful women in the artworld. 


Dahlia Danton

Friday, August 05, 2011

N E I G H


Few people realize that my dear,reclusive and secretive friend David Schoffman has two rather well-known siblings. Many will find it even more astonishing that in addition to a younger sister, Marie-Eleanor Duquesnoy, David is an identical twin.

Sergei Monopol(né Schoffman)Marie-Eleanor Duquesnoy

Let's begin with Marie-Eleanor.

As most of my readers will know, Duquesnoy is one of the most feared and respected investigative reporters in Europe. A regular contributor to Zurich's Die Neue Republik, Marie-Eleanor cracked the famous Hufeisen Case, exposing rampant corruption among jockeys and trainers at Bargen's Shlomit Rennstrecke. She was the first European journalist to interview rebel leader Mousa Toobi Chalifa at his secluded compound at the foot of Mount Sahand in Kandovan. And perhaps most famously she forced the resignation of Didier Crottin, chief financial officer of Paon Fréres after revealing an elaborate scheme of money laundering residuals from the sale of counterfeit birth control medication.


Sergei Monopol né Stevie Schoffman, on the other hand, has always been known as a deadbeat.


Dining out on the prestige of his twin brother, Sergei has wormed his way into the corridors of the wealthy and powerful by passing himself off as David. He once sat eyeball to eyeball nursing margaritas,smoking strong Turkish cigarettes and discussing the color red with none other than Francis Bacon. He flew in Robert Rauschenberg's private plane listening to old cassettes of John Cage chanting improvised lyrics from the I-Ching.


His greatest stunt was when he visited my studio in Paris, convinced me to lend him a small drawing and attempted to sell it to Leo Castelli's housekeeper for a fraction of its worth.
Currado Malaspina, 1981
Nobody wanted to press charges but we insisted he submit to a full psychological evaluation.


Sergei Monopol (né Schoffman) hanged himself last November in his two-bedroom apartment in Rego Park, Queens. 

My bereaved friend David Schoffman hasn't been the same since.

Friday, July 22, 2011

C'EST TOUT NAZE

The first time my dear friend David Schoffman set foot in Garentoux he was horrified by what he saw.

Portrait of Pierre Bon-Humaine. David Schoffman, 2011

Founded in 1652 by the Frères de la Douleur in Villeneuve-le-Roi, the Garentoux asylum is known mostly for its famous former inmates including Émile-Jacques Partout, Latude Esquirol and the Marquis de Saint-Séploudt. The unconventional therapies that have made the hospital so controversial, have, if anything, become more irregular with time. Though the incidences of violence have decreased, the percentages of full rehabilitation have remained relatively low. 

Chances are, if you enter Garentoux as a patient,  you will remain interned for the rest of your life.

I have yet to make up my mind regarding the ethics of "Barjot," David's most recent exhibition. Comprised of 635 beautifully executed ink drawings, the show documents with chilling candor each and every inmate of the sanatorium. Writing in Revue Hebdomadaire Fiable, René Charcuterie called it a "scandale de premier ordre." He went on to excoriate André Quills, the director of the hospital, for allowing his patients to become a "spectacle for the prurient high-brow," (" un spectacle pour l'élite libidineux").

I, for one, am unmoved by this skittish propriety, My chief concern is that none of Schoffman's subjects received any monetary compensation for their services, a galling detail considering the fact that the show sold out before the opening!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

DISTRACTION

The magnificent measure of a man, especially of a painter, is the capacity to absorb the mockery of one's peers. It requires a degree of self-effacement beyond the mere necessary. It commands a pressured claim upon an artist's fragile ego, summoning him toward the frivolous and the burlesque. My comical comrade David Schoffman merits our sincerest admiration after submitting to the clownish buffoonery of Hollywood, appearing in the new reality television program, Oily Canvas.

Still from episode 5 of Oily Canvas, Connerie Entertainment Ltd, 2011

A small camera crew attached itself to David for six full weeks, following him daily through the grinds and travails of studio life. We see him fastidiously firing staples into husky, over-sized stretcher bars. We watch fixedly as he struggles to blend his buttery paint into subtle grades of dim earth greens, coffee yellows and raucous reds and pinks. We witness his triumphs and frustrations, his daily crucibles with form and his rare moments of aesthetic exhilaration.

My favorite moment captured the unexpected visit of the flamboyant, freelance curator, Antonija Celik. An unshaven Schoffman is seen working in his atelier wearing a threadbare cloth bathrobe and a bright pair of orange striped boxer shorts. Celik, claiming to be passing through the neighborhood, drops by, ostensibly to see the progress of The Body Is His Book, Schoffman's long suffering, as yet incomplete series of 100 paintings. 


Antonija Celik in David Schoffman's Los Angeles studio. Connerie Entertainment Ltd, 2011

Without revealing too much ... little real work was completed that day.

Friday, July 01, 2011

DO YOU FEEL LUCKY


THE DIVIDED CITY OF NICOSIA SPRAWLS LIKE THE HIMALAYAN MOSS.  SWELLING LIKE A FUSILLADE OF FAT IN A TIGHT FITTING SUIT, THE CITY STRUGGLES TO CONTAIN ITS FRUCTIFEROUS GROWTH. APARTMENT BLOCKS, SHOPPING MALLS AND OFFICE PLAZAS VIE FOR VALUABLE REAL ESTATE WITH PROJECTED AMPHITHEATERS, LUXURY LOFTS, PARKING LOTS AND CASINOS.  IT'S A DYNAMIC METROPOLIS, DESPITE ITS CONTENTIOUS HISTORY AND IT SEEMS FITTING THAT MY DEAR FRIEND, DAVID SCHOFFMAN IS SOMEHOW EMBROILED IN THIS COSMOPOLITAN FRACAS.


Casino Seminolé, the three story gambling emporium on Onasagorus Avenue recently commissioned Schoffman to design a set of blackjack cards. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that he will receive twenty-thousand Turkish lira per card, making it the most costly deck in history. Each card will initially appear as a limited edition lithograph and to date the most popular one is the Five of Diamonds.

Five of Diamonds, David Schoffman 2011


Few North Cypriots realize that the basis of his motif is the Acropolis Museum's much admired Ares in Repose. Perhaps it's a not too subtle poke, a measure for measure of sorts, an artistic reprisal for the decidedly unartful Turkish role in all those flotillas.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

REJOICING IN FRUITION


A CANNY PHOTOGRAPHER CAUGHT THE REMARKABLE MOMENT.

Schoffman accepting the Plume Puant from Shulamit Görög

UPSTAGED EARLIER IN THE EVENING BY AN ENNOBLING ALBEIT LENGTHY HOMAGE TO THE CZECH PAINTER TAVIK TRAMPOTA, MY THIN-SKINNED COMRADE DAVID SCHOFFMAN WAS PREPARED FOR YET ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL ECLIPSE.


THE OCCASION WAS THE THIRTY-THIRD ANNUAL GRU RICKRACK FESTIVAL IN TIMISOARA. RICKRACK IS A VENUE FOR SOME OF THE MOST OFFBEAT WORKS OF CONTEMPORARY "ART" AND TENDS TO CAST ITSELF AS A SORT OF "ANTI VENICE BIENNALE." A TEDIOUS AWARDS CEREMONY MARKS THE CONCLUSION OF THE TWO-WEEK EVENT AND DAVID'S SHORT VIDEO LE FRISSON ABATTU WAS THE ODDS ON FAVORITE FOR LA PLUME PUANT.


THE BUZZ SURROUNDING THIS TRULY ORIGINAL WORK DID NOT PREVENT DAVID FROM EXERCISING HIS OVERRIDING PREDISPOSITION FOR PESSIMISTIC DEFEATISM. HE WAS CERTAIN THAT CLAUDINE ON BUSH STREET BY THE INIMITABLE FILMMAKING COLLECTIVE, POSSIBLE PICTURES WOULD CARRY THE DAY, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY WON THE PLUME FOUR TIMES WITHIN THE PAST SIX YEARS.


WHEN HIS NAME WAS ANNOUNCED HE WAS VISIBLY STIRRED AND GENUINELY STUNNED. SERBIAN PERFORMANCE ARTIST, SHULAMIT GOROG PRESENTED THE AWARD AND LATER DAVID CONFESSED THAT FOR YEARS HE ENJOYED LUMINOUS HALLUCINATIONS AND VIVID FANTASIES OF PLANTING A CORRUPTED KISS ON THE MILKY CHEEK OF THIS LOVELY AND TALENTED WOMAN.

Monday, June 20, 2011

FATE HOLDS NO PRIZE



MY GOOD FRIEND DAVID SCHOFFMAN AND I SHARE A DEAR MUTUAL FRIEND. ESSAYIST AND PHILOSOPHER, MARTA SONNETTO, HAS BEEN A CONSTANT PRESENCE IN BOTH OUR LIVES FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.

Portrait of Marta Sonnetto by Dahlia Danton, 2005
BORN IN SORRENTO IN 1939, SONNETTO INSCRUTABLY CLAIMED THAT SHE WAS NURSED ON LIMONCELLO AND LEARNED TO READ FROM A TATTERED, WATERLOGGED COPY OF  TASSO'S GERUSALEMME LIBERATA, THE ONLY BOOK HER PARENTS OWNED. HER MOST WIDELY READ WORK, THE 947  PAGE DISPERAZIONE O INDIGESTIONE, A THOROUGH THOUGH DEEPLY FLAWED CRITIQUE OF HER MENTOR, LEV SHESTOV, WAS ADAPTED INTO A POPULAR TELEVISION SERIES AND MADE SONNETTO A HOUSEHOLD NAME THROUGHOUT THE MEDITERRANEAN. DAVID AND I MET HER WHILE WE WERE STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI NAPOLI FEDERICO II. HER LEGENDARY THOUGH SPARSELY ATTENDED SPRING SEMINAR, ARRENDERSI CONTRO SFORZARSI, (PLAYFULLY REFERRED TO BY HER STUDENTS AS "CHE CAZZO E IL PUNTO") REMAINS A SOURCE OF GREAT INSPIRATION TO THE TWO OF US.

WHERE DAVID AND I DIFFER IS ON HOW BEST TO INTERPRET, OR INDEED, TO WHAT DEGREE TAKE SERIOUSLY SONNETTO'S ATTACHMENT TO THE NOTION OF INEVITABLE DESPAIR. DAVID CHANNELS HIS ANALYSIS THOUGH HIS WORK, SEEING HIS PAINTINGS AS A NECESSARY PALLIATIVE, AN ADAPTIVE CONSOLATION FOR THE INTELLIGENT RELINQUISHMENTS OF CONVENTIONAL FAITH.

I PREFER THE ANTIDOTAL BENEFITS OF BUPROPION, IMIPRAMINE AND AMITRIPTYLINE.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

FALSE MODESTY


IN THE SPRING OF 2002 MY UNFEASIBLE FRIEND, DAVID SCHOFFMAN, BEGAN WORK ON WHAT LATER BECAME KNOWN AS THE BODY IS HIS BOOK: 100 PAINTINGS, A QUIXOTIC ENTERPRISE THAT ENVISIONED A ROOM PACKED WITH MESMERIC, SYNCOPATED, ODDLY INTERRELATED, OBSESSIVELY DETAILED OIL PANELS. NOW, NINE LONG YEARS LATER AND THE PROJECT IS NEARLY COMPLETE.



OR IS IT?

WHILE VISITING DAVID IN HIS LOS ANGELES STUDIO LAST MONTH I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS WITH HIM HIS WORK, HIS IDEAS, HIS DUBIOUS ACHIEVEMENTS AND HIS MORE PLENTIFUL DISAPPOINTMENTS. SPEAKING IN BROKEN, RUDIMENTARY HIGH SCHOOL FRENCH (AT HIS INSISTENCE ... NOT MINE), IN TURN DEFIANT, DEFENSIVE, ELEGIAC AND EXHAUSTED, DAVID WAS MORE THOUGHTFUL THAN I'D REMEMBERED. 


"J'ai raté ma vie." His sad and palpable regret would have been heartbreaking had I been more sympathetic. But his claim that he somehow lived amidst a ruin of his own design, that he had mismanaged his life and squandered his opportunities rang as hollow as a chocolate Easter egg. Before me sat a man who has been fêted by monarchs, flattered by starlets, relentlessly pursued by oligarchs and executives, written about by scholars, scorned by rivals and honored by academics and he still claims that "J'ai baisé tous."


The man lacks gratitude and has lost all perspective. And now that The Body Is His Book is almost complete, with head in hand he dejectedly deadpans  "Je veux recommencer à zéro."

Start over again!!?? The paintings are ferocious in their intensity, vivid in their luster, complex in their intent and immaculate in their conception ... and he wants to start over again?  


The man must be protected from himself.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A COURTEOUS MAN


ROME IS ABLAZE WITH THE THOUGHTFULLY SCATHING CRITIQUE OF MY GOOD FRIEND DAVID SCHOFFMAN BY THE TALK SHOW HOSTESS, SALLY VESTUTA. 
AN UNLIKELY SUBJECT FOR EDIZIONI GUCCINI, ITALY'S BOUTIQUE PUBLISHING HOUSE AMONG WHOSE RECENT TITLES INCLUDE "BARISTE E SPOSE," BASED ON A POPULAR SOAP OPERA AND THE CONTROVERSIAL MEMOIR "I MIEI TESTICOLI."


OMO CORTESE OR "A COURTEOUS MAN," THIS NEW BOOK ADVANCES THE THEORY THAT DAVID'S HIGHLY AMBITIOUS WORK IS ULTIMATELY FLAWED, NOT ONLY BY ITS GOOD INTENTIONS BUT BY THE VERY DECENCY OF THE ARTIST HIMSELF. EXHAUSTIVE IN ITS REACH AND THOROUGH IN ITS ANALYSIS, VESTUTA FOCUSES ON THE ENTIRE ENTERPRISE OF PAINTING AND ITS FATAL LACK OF CULTURAL IMPACT.


THE PRODUCT OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF BACKBREAKING RESEARCH, VESTUTA CONDUCTED OVER NINE HUNDRED INTERVIEWS AND HAD COMPLETE ACCESS TO SCHOFFMAN'S NOTEBOOKS, DIARIES AND CORRESPONDENCES.

I MIGHT ADD THAT I AM INCLUDED IN A LENGTHY FOOTNOTE ON PAGE 343. IN IT I'M QUOTED AS SAYING "PHYSICAL EXILE AND INTELLECTUAL DISPLACEMENT ARE THE TWINNED DETRIMENTS TO THE SCHOFFMAN OEUVRE." 


I'M FLATTERED BY THE INCLUSION BUT HONESTLY ... CURRADO MALASPINA SIMPLY DOESN'T TALK LIKE THAT.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PRIX DE CONSOLATION


DEAR FRIEND, ESTEEMED SCHOLAR, ACERBIC CRITIC AND GENEROUS ART PATRON FABIOLA DU PLESSIS VOEUX HAS DIED.

Fabiola du Plessis Voeux, charcoal on paper, David Schoffman 2009

For over forty years Plessis Voeux was a treasured member of the Académie de l'Art et le Climat Doux in Aubechies. Her books include Crispin van der Broeck and the Guild of St. Luke, Treize à la Douzaine: Pastry and Painting in the Kingdom of Navarre and most recently,  Aniconism and Ambiguity in the Work of David Schoffman. 

Her work, though stunningly original in its scholarship has always been popular with the general reader. Winner of the Abrahamic Writer's Circle Prize for her weekly column in La Nouvel Philologue,Fabiola had a knack for making even the most marginal and recondite readable for the layman.

She was particularly fond of my good friend David Schoffman, whose work she misread and overly appreciated. In a 2002 interview on TF1, Fabiola called Schoffman's unfinished series of paintings, The Body Is His Book, the "most ambitious artistic project since Carracci's Farnese frescoes."

She will be sorely missed ... especially by David.




Thursday, May 19, 2011

SENEX BIS PUER


IT IS AN ARTICLE OF FAITH AMONG CERTAIN SECTORS OF THE ARTISTIC COMMUNITY THAT MY FAITHFUL FRIEND, DAVID SCHOFFMAN, IF NOT DOWNRIGHT CRAZY, IS DARKLY MANIACAL AND FATALLY ERRATIC.

Ab Asino Lanam, David Schoffman, 2011

HOW ELSE CAN ONE EXPLAIN THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE COMPLETION OF HIS LATEST MONUMENTAL PIECE, AB ASINO LANAM.

SHOWCASED AT THIS YEAR'S GRINDAVIK BIENNIAL, THE WORK CONSISTS OF TWENTY-EIGHT 4 FOOT SQUARE PANELS DEPICTING VARIOUS STATES OF HUMAN VITALITY AND REPOSE. ORIGINALLY INTENDED FOR THE GRAND PALAIS DE PITRERIES IN BAVIGNE WHERE IT WAS TO INCLUDE THREE TIMES AS MANY PANELS, THE WORK WAS EDITED DOWN TO A MANAGEABLE 16 BY 28 FEET.

TO SCHOFFMAN, SIZE IS EVERYTHING. I HAVE SEEN THIS WORK WHILE IT WAS IN PROGRESS. DAVID RENTED AN ABANDONED MILITARY AIRPORT HANGAR ABOUT TWELVE MILES EAST OF LAS VEGAS AND WITH THE HELP OF A SMALL ARMY OF SHOWGIRLS, DANCERS AND STRIPPERS COMPLETED NO LESS THAN 700 IMAGES IN THE SPACE OF ONLY TWO AND A HALF MONTHS.

THE MERITS OF SUCH AN ENTERPRISE ARE DEBATABLE AT BEST BUT TO THOSE OF US FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE VISITED HIM DURING THE PROCESS, IT WAS AN AWE INSPIRING PERFORMANCE OF WILL, DISCIPLINE AND MEGALOMANIA.

I ALSO GOT TO SEE DON RICKLES, THE SPINNERS AND PAT BENATAR!

Friday, April 29, 2011

INELEGANT LARCENY


ARTISTIC INGENUITY IS A VALUE I PRIZE ABOVE ALL OTHERS. PERHAPS MY MOTH-EATEN VALUES HAVE FALLEN INTO DECREPITUDE BUT MY IDEAL OF CONCEPTUAL ORIGINALITY IS ONE I STILL HOLD DEAR. MY GOOD FRIEND DAVID SCHOFFMAN IS APPARENTLY UNIMPAIRED BY THIS ADORABLY FOSSILIZED NOTION.


Interterrene, Twickenham Codex, 1786

THE IMAGE ABOVE IS FROM THE FAMOUS TWICKENHAM CODEX. THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT WHICH DATES FROM THE LATE 18TH CENTURY IS LOCATED IN THE KUHSCHEIßE ANTHNEUM IN SAARLAN. THE ENTIRE VOLUME IS RICHLY ILLUMINATED WITH WONDERFULLY ECCENTRIC IMAGES. EACH PAGE IS A SMALL UNIVERSE OF METICULOUSLY RENDERED DETAIL FULL OF COUNTERPUNCTUAL PATTERNS AND LABYRINTHINE DESIGNS.

The Body Is His Book #46, David Schoffman 2010

EXHIBIT A

THE NAKED APPROPRIATION AND INSOLENT INFERENCES IN SCHOFFMAN'S PICTORAL PURSE-SNATCHINGS ARE SLACK, DILATORY AND BENEATH THE STATURE AND DIGNITY OF THE PAINTERLY PROFESSION.

SNAP OUT OF IT, DAVID ... YOU'RE BETTER THAN THAT!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SON HISTOIRE ET SES CAUSES


BACK AT WORK IN HIS RUSTIC, ROOMY, LOS ANGELES STUDIO, MY HOPEFUL ALLY, DAVID SCHOFFMAN IS DETERMINED TO PROVE HIS CRITICS WRONG.


Though the critics were enthralled by my modest offerings 
at the Top Tomato show, they were far less captivated by David's overwrought and torpid polyptych. In an otherwise temperate review, Didier Sepharad of La Sonnette Hebdomadaire described Schoffman as a 'visual gasbag" (gascon visuelle). Caustically, he continued with a series of ad hominem characterizations, calling him, among other things a "bloviating Saussurian" (crieur Saussurian). Not to be outdone, Francoise Shalosh, chief cultural critic of L'Image Acoustique, France's leading literary periodical called Shoffman's (sic) work "yammering carrion" (des cadavres parlants) "unfit for public consumption" (impropres à la consommation publique).

All in all David has taken it all in stride, chalking it up to anti-Semitism and the deep cultural divide between France and the United States.













Friday, April 08, 2011

Le Mauvais Rêve


Displaced and disoriented by the incommodious agonies of trans-Atlantic transit, I shuffled, sore and somnolent into a gallery awash with strangers. The April 2nd vernissage at ART/SPACE LA @ Top Tomato was an oddity of the first order.

Eboli, oil on panel, David Schoffman 2011

 My capricious colleague David Schoffman enjoyed all the companionable advantages of a welcoming crowd. I, on the other hand, was treated like a miscreant. The three-person exhibition was crocheted into an incoherent burble of argumentative images. While the hagiographic  tabernacles from the departed Micah Carpentier vied uneasily with Schoffman's large sepulchral atrocity my subtle and understated works on paper hung on the main wall with a quiet and profound dignity.


Adding to the clumsy inadhesion was a bizarrely beautiful kabuki that arrived unannounced and departed unexplained and left the stunned spectators wondering if David's famous aesthetic indecision is an act of poetry or ineptitude.