Calligraffiti of Fire
Paris, France: Galerie Samy Kinge, 1986
[unpaginated], 18 x 23 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown
Published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name, this accordion fold book reproduces Gysin's epic work (1640 cm long) inspired by hieroglyphics and calligraphy. Produced in 1985, it was the artist's last painting - he died on July 13th, 1986, of lung cancer.
The book is available from Counter Culture Rarities, for $100 US, here.
"Calligraffiti of Fire is much more than the form and theme of Summer Fires 1965 rendered on a large scale. When Burroughs looked at a Gysin painting and glimpsed, “a lot of people on fire . . . streaming with gasoline on fire across the whole picture . . . “, he was divining a paradoxical theme which runs throughout Gysin’s life and work: fire as incendiary liberation, symbolic of creative powers, and fire as immolation and obliteration — now one, now the other, and finally the same: the spirit of life and its nemesis, gathered and burned out in the same flame. Crucially, Lacina describes the painting and destruction of the image at the Domaine Poetique as a homage to the Goddess Kali, observing: “There’s no creation without destruction; there’s no destruction without creation — Kali.” In Tantra it is imperative to confront one’s fear of death and the curse of chaos and discorporation — and by his creative and auto-destructive act, Gysin was attempting to placate the Great Devourer by taking upon himself the obliteration of his own work, eviscerating his own striving for transcendence and his pride in his own accomplishments. Although Lacina had rescued the dismembered picture and with Gysin’s help restored it, it would nevertheless remain an essentially eviscerated work — the sutured body parts of a sacrificial rite, memento mori of an act of artistic suicide."
"My picture is to be read from right to left across ten canvases"
- Brion Gysin, preface