Francis Alÿs, Untitled, 1994; Filippino Lippi, Allegoria dell’Amore (Allegory of Love), c.1500
I chose two works: a not-very-well-known painting, attributed to Filippino Lippi, Allegoria dell’Amore, and an untitled work by Francis Alÿs. Both paintings depict animals as their protagonists acting out human emotions: love on hooves and camaraderie on paws. Lippi’s is an allegory of love between a male and female deer purified by a unicorn; Alÿs’s carries its symbolism more lightly, poetically located somewhere between a proverb-rendered-visual and an observation of a fleeting everyday moment. Stray dogs’ tails interlocking could be a coincidental transient connection or a stand-in for an oath of loyalty to see each other through precarity. In both works, the elegant hocks, antlers or tails of light-footed animals create ornamental lines. In the older painting, these are outshone by two winding ribbons, which seem to pervade the landscape like a soundtrack. To make a painting is like a negotiation: relationships between its components are defined by pushing around sticky paint. I respond to paintings that employ restraint: they carefully delineate, and at times secure, dynamic paths for feelings to permeate – as if the rawness of the emotion were too much to bear. It seems a good idea that the beeswax in Alÿs’s painting and the oil and resin in Lippi’s work keep them bound together as long as the paintings exist.
Daniel Sinsel lives in London, UK. In early 2017, his work was included in ‘Disobedient Bodies: J.W. Anderson Curates the Hepworth Wakefield’, Wakefield, UK. He will have a solo show at Micky Schubert, Berlin, Germany, in November.
First published in Issue 6