Saturday, 30 January 2010

In the Realms of the Unreal.

A victim of child abuse and neglect, Henry Darger's works tend towards escapism, striking for their elements of fantasy and mythology.
The artist's style is innocent and playfully childish, taking the reader and beholder into a world of make-believe, far away kingdoms and knights, housing dragons and supernatural creatures. Even though the narratives appear to be very much like fairy tales, Darger's oeuvres are interlarded with underlying social and moral thematics. Moreover, because of the possible correlation of his childhood with his work, critics have often seen it as a self therapeutic process: the creation of a second life to communicate with a difficult past. 'The dragon' in the work below is a reoccurring character in Darger's books. These dragons or "Blengigomeneans" as the Chicago born artist liked to christen them, are gigantic winged beings with curved horns who occasionally take human or part-human form, even disguising themselves as children. 
I can't help but finding Darger's bibliography and his particular 'fantasy land' obsession to be reminiscent of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's 'Le Petit Prince'. That is, the child within to cherish, to nurture, the necessity of every adult to hear the whispers of the voice of knowledge that stands closer to the religious belief that before one is born he is in that place where all is known, all is factual. The older one grows, the greater the distance becomes from that place, and the scarcer the input of knowledge from the outside world. "Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." (Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.)

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