All the drawings in this portfolio are pages from an artist’s book “Plato/Pineapple/Poetry/Painting.” These watercolors use patterns found in the pineapple in its skin and fibrous insides. To obtain these various forms I made molds of the exterior of the fruit, traced it, and created rubber stamps and woodcuts from it. I have also created pineapple papyrus from different cuts. I have scanned this paper as a film revealing intriguing web of fibers.
In these pineapple patterns are nested quotes by Plato, Matisse and others, as well as my own reflections about subversion and the uneasy relationship between art and authority. Poets earned the distinction of being banished from Plato’s Ideal City, because their unruliness. In our contemporary republics, which are no less predicated on reason, all sorts of figures of authority claim to celebrate the subversive qualities of art. Yet such figures: teachers, curators, and even country presidents do not aspire for their authorities to be undermined by art. The book invites the reader/viewer to reflect on this inherent contradiction in the contemporary art discourse. We live in a time that invokes subversion as a measure of quality, yet we tightly confine color, sensuousness, feelings, and instincts in rigid conceptual frameworks. The book ends with a proposition from the Spanish author Juan Goytisolo: “Wouldn’t it be best to let a little poetry steal into your lives before you too rot away, like the books and manuscripts you’re reading…”.
Artist Bio / CV
Emna Zghal is a Tunisian-born U.S. based visual artist. Her work was featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in. Zghal received fellowship residencies and done projects with: the Women’s Studio Workshop, the Newark Art Museum, the MacDowell Colony, the Weir Farm Trust, and the Cité Internationale Des Arts in Paris. Reviews of her work appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Artforum, and ARTnews, The New Yorker in addition to many Tunisian publications. Her portfolio of prints The Prophet of Black Folk about the 9th Century African slave revolt in Iraq was acquired by Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. Other works of hers are part the New York Public Library, Yale University, The Museum For African Art in New York, Grinnell College, and numerous other public and private collections in the U.S. and Tunisia. In 2008 she was awarded a Creative Capital grant for a public art project, Dark Turquoise, in collaboration with Michael Rakowitz. She taught at Grinnell College, Parsons New School of Design and Purchase College.