Thursday, April 2, 2009


Currado Malaspina’s flimsy grasp on reality was evidenced again in an interview published in the spring edition of La Nouvelle Cosmopolis. He was interviewed by Loquecia McCart, the venerable independent curator known mostly for the succès de scandale surrounding the exhibition “J'ai Touché sa Chatte.” Asked to name his three favorite contemporary artists, he predictably rattled off Micah Carpentier and Dahlia Danton. What shocked McCart was the third artist he named.

“I had the privilege several years ago,” began Malaspina, slowly drawing out his story for maximum suspense, “to spend a week in Smyrna, lecturing at the Beylik Institute to a group of very gifted graduate students. It was my habit to begin each day by walking the three kilometers from my hotel to Konak Pier to a café improbably called Maimonides. Eddie, the proprietor, a portly man with a waxed handlebar moustache, always made it a point to personally serve me his freshly baked börek, pour me his dangerously scalding coffee and sit with me at a table with the most favorable view of the Port of Izmir.

“'In the Karatas,' Eddie said one morning referring to the old Jewish quarter in the city center, 'just off of Dario Moreno Street, there is a small spice shop where I purchase my za’atar and cardamom. Its owner, Yaris Atoyat, a most peculiar man, may be of special interest to you.' Eddie knew I was an artist, but that was all he knew of me, so I assumed it wasn’t the spices he had in mind.

“The following day, after my lecture, I took a cab to
Arugete and Sons Spices to see for myself what Eddie was talking about. On the walls of the shop, whose cacophonic pungency wafted into the street in thick, invisible hallucinogenic waves, were literally hundreds of oddly rendered watercolors of nudes. They were the strangest, most disturbing images I had ever seen. They seemed both ignorant of and aloof from any western tradition. I had experienced nothing like this before or since.

“I introduced myself to Mr. Atoyat and asked who the artist was who was responsible for all the beautiful paintings. He beamed when he said ‘my son, my son Cobi Atoyat is the artist'.

“And so to answer your question, my three favorite artists are: Carpentier, Danton and Cobi Atoyat.”

Cobi Atoyat 2009

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