Friday, December 10, 2010

Stendhal Syndrome

In the nineteenth century a French author named Stendhal was traveling in Florence Italy and he was so overwhelmed by all the art and beauty that he became dizzy, faint and physically sick. After a second solid day of chasing art in Miami I believe I might have suffered from this Stendhal Syndrome.

This sketch was done in the convention center. This installation caught my attention because inside people were sitting and gently playing a drum. The piece was called Circleprototemple by Ernesto Neto. A thin shear red fabric was stretched over wooden forms which created what in my mind resembled a heart or very large strawberry. This wasn't an organized performance, rather curious passers by would enter the oval portal and sit on the wooden benches inside. A single drum mallet was suspended from a bungee chord over the drum. If the mallet was lifted and dropped it would bounce up and down striking the drum. Some people went inside not to play the drum, but to sit and finger their iPhones and PDA's . I was surprised when Orlando photographer Grazyna Kleinman stopped by while I was sketching. She told me about her crazy night of partying till 4am. She was running on pure adrenaline. As we spoke an exhibitor told me to move my chair out into the exhibit floor walkway. He felt I was blocking a painting by Brian Calvin called group smoke.

I got two press passes to see SCOPE, a huge collection of work from contemporary artists in a large outdoor tent. Here I found the work of an artist whose paintings truly caused my heart to race. His name was Karim Hamid and he paints large figurative works with oils on board. His work is expressionistic and resembles the work of Francis Bacon to some extent. This work fired off something inside me, a new flame ignited. This is why I had come to Miami!

Later, Terry and I offered Brian Feldman a ride out to Miami's South Beach. He had a case of Art and culture induced hiccups. He spent the whole ride telling us about the performances he was planning for the 2011 Orlando Fringe Festival. Every sentence was interrupted by a new and peculiar hiccup. Each interrupted thought caused us all to laugh to the point where it became hard to breath. I tried to share with him a time honored family cure but the incantation alone didn't work without a cup of water.

Terry and I met two couples for dinner at a Cuban Thai Restaurant after dropping Brian off at South Beach. He was still hiccuping when he jumped out of the car. I had a spicy and delicious Pad Thai. When we called it a night and started the drive back to our friends home for the night, I suddenly felt ill. My stomach churned and I felt my innards turning to mud. Terry drove around the block and dropped me back at the restaurant. I ran back inside. Too much rich food, art and running around. I wouldn't be documenting any naked bonfire parties this night.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: