Comme une Vieille Orange (Charles Baudelaire), 2019, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy of the Artist.
Hear from the Artist
Hi. I’m Robin Crocker and I’m an artist working in Bristol, RI. The work I’m exhibiting at the Newport Art Museum Bi-ennial is titled Comme une Vielle Orange (for Charles Baudelaire).
The text on the piece is taken from a stanza extracted from the poem, Au Lecteur, (To the Reader) that serves as a forward to Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) a collection of poems written by Charles Baudelaire.
The poem, translated to English, reads:
Like a miserable wretch who with kisses and bites
Tortures the breast of an old prostitute
We take our passing clandestine pleasures
And squeeze them very hard like a dried up orange
“comme une vielle orange”
The poem, itself, is an indictment of complacency, twisted desire, evil thoughts, greed and self-loathing. Stenciled over the surface like a scrim, or a veil, the poem is embedded in the piece – it is THERE, yet undecipherable. It does not need to be read.
The rusted, corroded circle in this piece clearly represents the dried-up orange and all that it implies, BUT I did not set out deliberately to craft that specific idea. In my art making process I often feel I am acting as a conduit, putting materials in play, (metals, chemicals, plastics…) summoning ideas, texts, experiences, that through their collision evolve into something more meaningful than I could contrive… something, when successful, is transcendent from me.
Nature and Time create patina. For example, they act on a fresh piece of fruit, in this case, an orange – drying, desiccating, rotting and corrupting – a metaphor for the mortal experience of flesh. My use of rusting steel mirrors this aging process. We are all destined to experience our youth drifting away from us, which no amount of desperate grasping can halt. Our skin betrays this most of all.
My dark, charred piece hangs like a flayed, translucent skin; the remnant of some past violence. An orb glows – molten hot – from its center, and text, like a delicate cage, strives to contain the threat, offering some unfathomable wisdom.