Friday, August 7, 2015


As certain as the steel blue winter light annuls the golden umbers of autumn so do the sage rational reflections of old age cancel the callow impulses youth.

Unless, of course, your name is Currado Malaspina.

If your name is Currado Malaspina you ungracefully evolve into caricature and that which had been tolerated while young is now openly mocked without pity.

In a recent interview appearing in the periodical L'art pour l'art he talked about the genesis of I Modi,  those awkward graphic bulletins of impotence and its discontent .

"Despite my complete antipathy toward nature I spend inordinate amounts of time at the beach.

"Though I'm generally repelled, I troll the crowded shores hoping to feed my clichéd fantasies and restore my dwindling appetites. 

"When I happen upon the rare conjunction of concupiscence and farce, I seize the moment and discreetly snap a few photos.

 "Foregrounding the tragedy of my vanished vigor, I find the ensuing mortal crisis both humiliating and restorative. It is only by the mysterious magic of drawing do I retrieve, however fleetingly, the hardiness of my youth.

"That I am able to parlay this into serious art is merely the custard on the canelé ."


Tuesday, August 4, 2015


The preferred diction of my tortured friend Currado Malaspina is rage and indignation. It matters little whether he is trying to talk his way out of a parking ticket, complaining to the maitre d'hotel about a tepid bisque or delivering an impassioned jeremiad in front of a lecture hall of artworld malcontents, Currado is always inflamed.

Those of us who know him never take his tone too seriously so when he started off a few months ago about some vague and seemingly harmless copyright infringement we all shrugged it off as just another one of his fugitive tantrum.

It was only later did we learn of XinQin Enterprises in Shanghai and how it brazenly appropriated one of Currado's signature images to promote its new line of inexpensive fragrences.

Acrobat, the line in question, is manufactured in Malaysia, distributed through Hong Kong and can be found in department stores from Delhi to Dubai. The image is fairly dim and I suppose they thought no one would notice. But Currado has a nose for grievances especially when it comes to eau de toilette.

When he took them to court they successfully claimed that it was within the bounds of utilisation correcte. Currado tried to introduce the original drawing as evidence but it was ruled inadmissible because of it's "objectionable content."

Meanwhile XinQin got a boatload of free publicity while Currado was dragged into the litigious world of jurisprudential dog shit.

Nobody came out smelling very good.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Mon semblable, mon frère.

It's best to leave Currado Malsapina alone. 

I have yet to meet someone so talented yet so cripplingly insecure. Easily offended one must always guard their words and mind their mannerisms around him.  

There are rules of engagement while in audience with his thin wrinkled skin. One must never speak about oneself lest the touchy genius misconstrue a casual aside for a shot across the bow. 

 I once mentioned the strong affinity I had with Rahel Tornatoura, the gifted character actress who at one time worked in Los Angeles as an office temp and an artist's model. Months later, while discussing the tepid reception of a recent exhibition I noted that Rahel had responded more favorably than most and how touched I was by her generous and nuanced reading of my work.

"Evidemment imbécile," he spat contemptuously, "she was your employee, what else do you expect her to say!?"

He confessed to me once that he felt like a fraud and that his fame and reputation were tacitly ill-deserved. 

"Join the club," I nearly shrieked, "don't we all share the same occupational frailty?"

You see, Currado and I are two sides of the same bloodied tourniquet. We are twinned by temperament and fastened by fate . We are duplicates, with each one a counterfeit mirror of the other.

We artists are unstable by nature. We doubt our value while earnestly claiming for ourselves a precious slice of immortality. It's a double game of hubris and humility and in order to survive we must bathe in these awful contradictions.

But Currado has gone too far. In his dotage his nerves are frayed from overuse. He's so easily triggered that one day he flew into a rage because I innocently apologized for inadvertently offending him.

"How in the world could an insect like you think themselves capable of provoking the likes of me!!"

Good thing my French is a bit rusty because he soon lit into me like a swarm of praying mantises. 

It's all behind us now. Water under the bridge. We are close friends as never before and have reached a very good understanding.

Currado shares with me his thoughts, his feelings, his ideas and even his fears. He confides in me and offers me advice when he suspects I've veered off-course. Because he's confident of my sympathetic ear he boasts at times, slowly reading to me from newspaper reviews, magazine articles and even thank you notes and Christmas cards. He sends me pictures of his latest works and most recent girl-friends. He tells me of the books he's read and the lectures he's attended. And he generously offers me his latest theories on how to achieve true eudaimonia in this hectic, technological world.

I, in turn, nod my head, smile companionably and agree with every single thing he has to say.   

Friday, May 29, 2015


Like many of his generation, my good friend Currado Malaspina carries with him the imprint of the Parisian 'Génération 68.'   From politics to sexuality, Malaspina is indelibly marked by the frenzied anarchy of those tumultuous times.

Unfortunately for him, the times have changed and the cranky romance with universal redemption has long since lost its sheen . Human nature, with its clinging fidelity to survival and self-interest has proved unsuitable for radical transformation. Our vital signs are measured not by our passions but by our worth and it seems that poor Currado just doesn't seem to get it.

But just because he still votes for the Parti Socialiste, his alleged hold on noble virtue is very flimsy at best. It seems he only absorbed the A-side of La révolution sexuelle, the part about amour libre. 
The other part, the one about strong, assertive feminist agency somehow eluded his grasp.  

He still holds the suspicion that behind every opportunity for congress lies the dreaded menace of the Vagina Dentata. And though this suspicion consumes him with a near fatal dread he still finds something exhilarating about the teasing proximity of mutilation and violence.

His fears are mixed with lurid fantasies besotted in a hazy sfumato of Sadean perversion. He confessed to me recently that this past winter he experienced a series of recurring dreams that seemed straight out of the mind of Sacher-Mosoch.

He wasn't particularly troubled by this.

He actually seemed quite pleased.

I worry about my dear friend Currado.

None of this seems healthy for a man of advanced middle-age. Knowing now what I know, I would think twice before inviting him to a baptism or an innocent family picnic. Who knows what deviance is entertained behind his impassive stare?

Then again, who am I to judge. 

 With Currado these days, the sharper the rapier the happier he gets.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


My good friend Currado Malaspina is finally getting famous.

Not that he isn't already famous but it's one thing to be a well known contemporary French painter and quite another to be designated the official Digital Asset Designer of the European Union.

Currado has finally gone legit!

In his capacity of court painter for the European Council of Ministers he has already created a logo for the upcoming Conference on Taxation and Customs, designed the layout for the new Eudralex medicinal legislation newsletter and sculpted a marble bust of the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

I think he's rather pleased with all these new demands. He told me he finds it refreshing spending time with policy wonks and bureaucrats. They eat well, smoke good cigars and never raise their voices in anger.

One project however is causing him to lose his sleep. 

For whatever reason the EU has decided that 2 euro should be the standard rate for mailing of any parcel under 50 grams. They asked Currado to design a new stamp and he's having a hell of a time coming up with something he thinks they will like.

This was his fourth attempt.

I don't think so ....

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


2009 was the year my good friend Currado Malaspina lost his zest for life. He calls it 'The Great Unraveling" and looking back in retrospect it's easy to see why.

It started out when, after being shamed, coaxed and cajoled by his studio assistant Mohammad, he purchased his first cell phone. Mo is a sweet young guy who, when he's not smoking cigarettes or stretching canvas he's posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook. Social media is vital to him because he spends a lot of his spare time chatting up full-breasted American tourists in the hookah bars in the 8ème and it's very important that his friends in Bagneux know all about it.

Mo thought Currado needed to become wired and connected and he assured him that it would only serve to simplify his cluttered life.

In no time Currado was talking, typing, texting  and teasing his way through a grove of young women whose primary occupation in life seemed to be the manufacture of curated selves on social media.

He got so sucked in that he soon found himself spending the better part of his days shuttling between these inane recreational platforms. Quite out of character he began messaging, liking, poking and composing all manner of cleverly flirtatious commentary hoping upon hope that one of these invisible nymphs would notice him. 

It got so bad he had Mo hook up a Playstation so he could conduct his mute correspondences on the big screen while reclining in his pajamas on his American La-Z-Boy.

It took the mortification of discovering that the comely Italian artist with the sparkling white teeth and the vermillion lips was actually a chubby gamer from Passaic who had over fifteen online identities and a muddled relationship with gender.

I'm not entirely sure Currado is completely over his obsession but he seems to have cut down considerably the amount of time he spends in front of his screen. Occasionally I see one of his tweets which usually have something to do with loneliness, alienation and the decline of the slow-baked baguette. 

And he has a new assistant, Jessica, whose only job, it seems, is to make clever, 10 second videos of Currado running his fingers over his temple and posting them on Vine.

Friday, April 17, 2015


My good friend Currado Malaspina has reached the tender age where his retrospective eye is no longer jaundiced by regret and his prognosticating eye is no longer fouled by expectation.

He has reached the age of sanguinity.

He has a lovely girl-friend with whom he shares a gentle intimacy, he has a brilliant editor with whom he has a deep and abiding friendship and he has a temperamental wife in whom he has a reliably nimble adversary. 

In other words, like many artists before him he is leading what the French call la vie bohème en rupture.

As he withdraws into the predictability of habit and the near abjuration of conspicuous vice his work has taken a decided turn toward the staid, the complacent and, dare I say, the priggish. Where once he courted scandal, it is more common these days for Currado to take comfort in consensus and conformity. His induction into the august Société des grands maîtres de la république is only the most recent case in point. For the most part he seems to spend his time reading Le Monde Diplomatique, playing pétanque in Parc André Citroën with a few chain-smoking retirees and drawing the live model on Thursday nights at Ateliers Rrose Selavy in the 9ème.

The legend of Malaspina, a convenient fabrication crafted like a fine watch and nurtured like a vine has finally fallen into disuse. In this, our viral age, it's slow obsolescence has barely been noticed. The only things that seem to remain are the scars, the stories and the work.

To those still sympathetic to this mediocre man ...
pick two.



Tuesday, April 7, 2015


"The skin on my face is beginning to look like a shoe in need of a shine."

My dear, vain friend Currado Malaspina is beginning to recognize the ravages of aging.

He's conflicted.

On the one hand he sees the years that lay behind him as a necessary apprenticeship. He looks at his youth as an inventory of embarrassments the fruits of which are the accessible insights he enjoys in retrospection.

On the other hand he wakes each morning to swollen ankles, sour breath and a hulking conscience larded with regrets.

I suppose one could call it "mood swings" but he just calls it fretful inertia.

Luckily. during the heady late 20th century when in the eyes of the art-buying public he could do no wrong, he packed away his euro like a beaver collecting river grass. He bought a nice place just outside Moncontour, a small villa surrounded by lush cypresses, agapanthes, crocosmias, echinaceas and wild jasmine.

It helps to dull the pain but the conflict remains like a cold-sore.

He still sells the occasional painting but he knows that he's only trading in the conceptual retreads of an old artist in decline.

Could it be that he's poised to fall in love yet again? Will he be consumed by the torments of another young muse? Will his creativity surge while being devoured and disfigured by another vagina dentata?


Thursday, April 2, 2015


For an artist deeply involved in his work, the walls of Currado Malaspina's studio are strangely bare . An outdated calendar fixed on février with a reproduction of  La Fornarina is hanging at a careless angle by the slop-sink in the back. Next to it is a postcard - its provenance long forgotten - with a short ambivalent message scrawled in what could be a child's hand that cryptically reads "nous sommes arrivés."

At the far wall, near the mammoth Saint Remy mahogany easel are a cluster of thumbtacks, the flat-headed kind that have long since been replaced in most art supply stores by the ubiquitous pushpin. It's probably a reflection of the times that the soft clumsy thumb has given way to the belligerent, "user friendly" pushIt's equally significant  that the querulous Currado has remained impervious to this benign technological disruption.

By his small desk which curiously sits in the one windowless corner of the room, there's a faded color snapshot of a smartly dressed woman of early middle age walking briskly from what appears to be a 1964 Chevrolet Impala. The picture seems to have been taken in the early spring somewhere on the east coast of the United States, but of this I can't be sure.

It never crossed my mind to ask Currado about this diminutive memento, assuming its private significance would lose a layer of intimacy in either the explaining or the evasion. But through the years I've noticed that the picture is degrading almost like an organism. It's as if it has taken on the talismanic role of gauging Malaspina's own physical and mental deterioration. 

Currado doesn't believe in regret despite the fact that his life is a noxious trail of slights and sins. His old friend Dahlia Danton (who never met a cliché she hasn't worn out like a terrycloth bathrobe) likes to say that "you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube." 

Currado would prefer gum disease. 

The rest of the 500 square meter space is as barren as the old testament Sarah. Malaspina has scrubbed his present of the past, turning his diminishing future into an unfettered conjecture.

He likes it that way for in his own eyes he's blameless and free from accountability.

But who is the woman with the Impala and to where exactly have the mysterious children arrived?

Thursday, March 5, 2015


They say that marriage is provisional but divorce is perpetual. I've always assumed that like most American aphorisms, this one too was a stale broth of aspirational Yankee fortitude and airless Calvinist moralizing.

Then I learned that the aforementioned phrase is actually French in origin. It was no less of an authority than Alonso Aubigné in his 1847 treatise The Brahmin of Trust who wrote: "mariage est temporaire mais le divorce ne dure éternellement."

And such is the case with my good friend Currado Malaspina.

Currado and Violetta Malaspina in a colorized surveillance photo taken by Violetta's attorney

Despite a civil union lasting all of ninety-seven days, Violetta Malaspina has been demanding, despite the well documented fact that theirs was a divorce sur demande conjointe des époux, (in other words, jointly requested), an usurious settlement
that will surely cripple Curado's estate beyond recognition.

For the past fifteen years the estranged couple meet on the first Tuesday of every month at Café Tonton Macoute on Boulevard Douvalier to try to iron out their differences without the intervention of the courts.

Repas Complet #32
Violetta is demanding a full 70% of all of Currado's earnings from 1999 onward claiming that she was the catalyst for his meteoric success. Although he has never denied that his ex-wife served as a model for his notorious Repas Complet series of mixed media drawings, she was only one among several who posed for him during that time.

Additionally, my good friend insists that it was the discovery of his late father's grenier sketchbooks that were the real source of his inspiration.

None of this really seems to matter. These monthly Mardi meetings have become a matter of rote. Despite their toxic underpinnings they have perversely become a kind of welcomed ritual in an otherwise hectic and chaotic life. For the both of these two lost souls, clinging to each other in this noxious pas a deux provides a comfort that can't be replicated elsewhere.

Maybe my dear friend Currado has found the true meaning of boundless unconditional love.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


“Nessun maggior dolore
che ricordarsi del tempo felice
nella miseria...” 

Thus sprach the wise and prescient Dante.

Indeed, there is no greater sadness than the recollection of mirth in the midst of melancholy. My good friend Currado Malaspina messed up royally. He held beauty within his grasp and he let it slip like sand through his thick and coarsened fingers. 

Malaspina &Danton del tempo felice

 The lovely Los Angeles artist Dahlia Danton literally worshiped this unworthy cad. As a young aspiring painter she hung on every feeble phrase that left his careless trap. She cared for him when he was sick and lifted his spirits during his frequent bouts of depression.

And how was she repaid?

With callous disregard.

A clue to what precipitated the demise of their storybook romance is encoded, I believe, within the pages of Malaspina's Cahiers Palimpseste (Palimpsest Notebooks).

 Could it be that Currado's amorous defections proved too much for even Dahlia to bear?

Thursday, February 12, 2015


In a moment of weakness, when a few personal calamities collided unexpectedly and the tendons of an inner tranquility seemed suddenly severed from Earth's beautiful firmament, my good friend Currado Malaspina returned to the Church.

It had been years and many, many sins ago but he was welcomed warmly like the forgiven prodigal that he was. The institution had changed since his last bout of devotion. When he was a child he was frail of both body and mind and the consolations of faith proved invaluable. 

He was attracted to the sanctity of the rituals wrapped as they were at the time within the veil of Veronica and the obscure sonorities of Latin. The less he understood of its mysteries the greater was his faith for what is faith if not the confidence in the incredible?

Art replaced that suspension of logic but after years of dissipated excess he was left like a wrinkled fondling groping again after meaning.

The Church had changed with time. Not only had the Latin liturgy receded into hermetic obsolescence, now, a new language delivered by young, 'life-style" savvy priests urged parishioners to "presence possibilities" (présencer des possibilities) and begin "experiencing the experience of the experiential state" (expérience l'expérience de l'état expérientiel). Mass, now more social than solemn, was conducted in the decidedly unholy argot of personal affirmation.  

This new departure stretched all limits of credulity. Currado could conceivably see his way toward the resurrection and even entertain the possibility of a virgin birth but this "living true to your transformation" (vivre fidèle à votre transformation) business was a bit too much to bear. 

God was good and full of grace but on top of all that must he also be "awesome?" (Jésus c'est ouf!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Écouter and répéter: pêcher ... to fish

A new Canadian documentary about the life and work of my good friend Currado Malaspina has just opened to mixed reviews in his native France.

The film Currado Malspina: A Life of Absences and Sin, is an intimate portrait of this very complicated man.

It might actually be called Currado Malaspina: A Life of Absence and Sin. "Absence" in the singular. The trailer seems to be of two minds on the matter. 

(A better title might have been Currado Malaspina: A Life of Absinthe and Sin, but then again I'm not the producer).

Of one thing I am absolutely certain.

from the French promotional package advertising the new film Currado Malaspina: A Life of Absence(s) and Sin

 In no way is the film entitled Currado Malaspina: A Life of Absences and Fishing.

Heck, what do I know ...



Wednesday, December 31, 2014


My continental colleague Currado Malaspina and I were once described by a lyrically muddled art critic as "two vipers gnawing on the same rim" (due vipere rosicchiare sullo stesso bordo). Maybe it lost something in the warped mirror of translation but to this day I still have no idea what the hell she was talking about.

Her snipe (or was it a compliment?) was occasioned by one of our very rare collaborations, a two-person exhibition in Milan where we were roped into creating a site-specific installation putatively inspired by the work of Giulio Andreotti and Salvatore Riina.

Creating a piece in the shadow of this legendary pair of conceptualists was considered a dumb idea at the time and it remains a dumb idea till today. I give credit to the curators for succeeding in that rare phenomena in contemporary art discourse where a questionable premise maintains its flimsy durability despite the passage of time. 

After enduring the calamitous repercussions to my own fragile career I vowed never to repeat the awful mistake of linking my artistic fate with a lesser talent.

Unfortunately Currado is not that clever.

If Malaspina and I were snakes nibbling on the teat of professional triumph then he and the Los Angeles diva Dahlia Danton must be a pair of abstemious innocents staring at the seductions of a defeated dessert.

Anyone who has spent half a minute in New York City knows that the artworld there is indifferent both to women and to Frenchmen. Combine the two and you have a target as wide as the New Jersey Turnpike. Add to this the naked fact that Danton puts the super in superficial and I can hear the carrion crows smacking their silver nibs all the way to Culver City.

Chiana Garner and Garry Chiati, two formidable New York dealers who in a sane world should know better have decided to kick off their 2015 season with what looks more like a stunt than a salvo.

Maybe it's envy or maybe it's distrust but I am sincerely appalled at this naked attempt to seduce the East with these stale flavors of months long past. Pairing Danton with Currado is like serving quail eggs with Nutella and barring an act of god my two friends will gag on their own fermented vomit.

It's a pity. Danton fits so sweetly into the glistening swell of southern California.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Among the many childhood memories that race like hungry minnows through the tortured consciousness of Currado Malaspina are the commingling images of pain and play.

The medicinal vegetable juices with their punitive tastes and pale unappetizing hues that were forced upon him by his elderly, spinster great-aunt have left Currado, to this day, with an irrational aversion to turnips and chard. And yet together with that vaguely repugnant reminiscence another image trots to the surface that is neither nauseating nor unpleasant and that is the vivid recollection of the very same tante Odette's beautiful young nurse who lived with the family intermittently as the terminally unmarried octogenarian aged into near complete invalidity.

Another equally conspicuous contrast is that of the crowded urban playgrounds with their rusted Italian slides and antiquated swings where Currado received his first catechism in the many essential skills of inner city survival.

It was there where the local prepubescent punks were tutored by their not-so-elders in the arts of smoking, stealing and something that resembled fucking but was not nearly as refined. These same swings but in modified forms began to claim an infelicitous residence in the Malaspina summer estate in Brue-Auriac. Like squatters these swings slowly took over the long abandoned étable des vaches until the place looked like a poorly planned daycare center.

The children, on pain of severe corporal punishment, were forbidden entry into what looked to them like an earthly paradise. The former barn was the exclusive domain of Malaspina's father Sordello and if a child suffered the misfortune of getting caught meandering around, or worse, actually swaying blissfully upon the apparatuses, a beating "à l'Afrique du nord" would soon follow.

The pieces began to fit together only many years later when the infamous erotic sketchbook was discovered. 

As my readers know, Sordello Malaspina was a part-time scribbler and a full-time philanderer and like a punctilious scrivener he would record his many conquests with small awkward and detailed drawings.

It's nice to know that at least somebody got to play!