AUGUSTUS Portrait of Le Marquis de Sade 1999 [R/F] - x +
Augu1999sade

CN: Augu1999sade

MT: oil on prepared paper (100x66 / F:119x87x3)

TX: signed with brush at lower left of picture in Greek <Augustus>

DN: Baroness Monica von Pickarz - 2007

CM: In this painting, Augustus presents an eccentric portrait of the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), the French nobleman and author from whose name the word sadism is derived. Though sadism suggests the perversion of deriving sexual pleasure from the infliction of pain on others, the present painting represents the essence of de Sade's philosophy, which concerns an extreme form of freedom directly related to moral laxity. The manuscripts of de Sade, casting light on the dark corners of the human mind, established him as a dark angel of the romantics, explorer of the "forbidden realm" of the surrealists, and prophet of the literature of evil. Inspired by the intense life of de Sade, Augustus composed a chameleonic portrait composed of the facets that constitute his persona, which is recognizable despite its archiboldic quality. De Sade's face is an imaginary profile with the distinctive crooked nose about which he boasted. From the bust's lower part springs a tap, whose beginning is in the form of the Pollice Verso, the thumbs down gesture demanding the loser's death, about which de Sade had no reservations. The thumb is met by a spoon, which reveals de Sade's well-known soft spot for soups. The composition incorporates a dolphin, which infers a phallic symbol, and which de Sade is reported to have borne on his body in the form of a tattoo. The main part of the tap is adorned by a picture of Prometheus Bound, with whose sexual manifestation de Sade identified. Above Prometheus hovers the personification of Victory, whom de Sade felt to be crowning him when he completed his literary masterpieces during his imprisonment. The tap's spout resembles a featureless face from within which pour tears of pain. The invention of the helmet, which covers his thin hair, gave Augustus' imagination the opportunity to grow even wilder. The helmet's cervical protection presents in an impressionistic style the figure of de Sade in an oriental turban, in keeping with his habit of wearing Persian costumes. At this point begin de Sade's dreams, which climax at the helmet's crest. Immediately discernible is the parrot that de Sade was not allowed to keep with him in his prison cell. The composition includes his lover and his jester at the time he lived as a nobleman, as well as the lamp he wrote by in darkness. Also included in a cubist style is the face of Madame de Sade, his lawful lover. The composite parts become an amorpohous mix at the main part of the helmet, from the ear to the temple. A visual pun unfolds, with colors geometrically composed so that patterns may be discerned. This is Augustus' attempt to recreate the colors that de Sade saw from the window of his cell while in the insane asylum in Charenton. The compositional confusion here evokes the transition from the dream's conception to its materialization by means of literature. The upper part of the helmet incorporates a nightingale, a castrated phallus, a mermaid and - yet again - a dolphin. In front of the mermaid is an abstract vagina, emblematic of de Sade's perverted tendency to evince geometrically the space in which he materialized his sexual fantasies. The helmet's forefront is adorned by five flames symbolizing his passions: lust, harlotry, pride, gluttony, and vanity. The crest of the helmet is adorned by the wanton flame of the hell he went through, which incubates the egg of imagination. From the eyes of de Sade two tears are shed, evidence of the psychological pain and deadlock of his life. De Sade's black heart pulsates at the vein of his forehead - owing its color to his hatred for everything - hanging from the hair of his ego. The background of the portrait evokes the deep blue of the abyss. However, despite the overall gloom, de Sade's portrait is crowned by a cleansing cloud, offering such self-condemned souls a chance to rise to the heavens.

[Megakles 09/2006]

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