Frederic Amat at Monique Knowlton and Mary-Anne Martin

Frederic Amat, Boat and Marble with the Remote Majesty of an Idol, 1983.
Wax and acrylic on handmade paper, 48 x 97 inches

Amat’s sunstroked surfaces of paper pulp marinated with pigment and wax contain the fantastic architecture of Antoni Gaudi’s Finca Güell in Barcelona. As a nomadic Catalonian, Amat carries with him a metaphoric arsenal of saints and sinners, the painted fictions of Spanish painters. The images snap at the jugular like voracious fish, the guts spill out in ruby-red gore, matted with gristle, stripped of pretense, heaped high on
a funereal platter.

Boat and Marble with the Remote Majesty of an Idol (48 x 97 inches) rocks on a brached spit of sand. Quixotic juxtapositions abound. The sturdy craft—open to the elements—transports the severed head of the regally horned bull. The animal’s lampblack hide appears charbroiled, a massive hunk of animated meat, no doubt dead as a martyred doornail. The skillfully guillotined head must be part of a processional, an occult celebration, a twilit night of the living dead. Rembrandt’s Flayed Ox (hanging at the Louvre) comes to mind, a majestic construction that con- sumes the butchered space. Amat’s bull’s head rests a flared snout on the boat’s gunwale, its interior juices dye the marble pyre.  Joyce’s Leopold Bloom could feast on the image.

In Goya’s Burial of the Sardine (Carnival Scene), an ecstatic crowd dances under the swaying banner of a huge, grinning visage (the Cabezudo). That central image of the gigantic head bobs through Amat’s work, shadow-boxing his skeletons, fish heads and Madonnas.

Blood and Gold at Dusk is a passionate embrace of Dionysian forms. A supine, abalone, finned odalisque stretches a languid arm sky- ward, caressing the pointed mouth of a fantastic creature, as he wraps his skeleton frame around the big-hipped enchantress. The fish head, a phallic death head awash in Catholic symbolism, grinds into the cat-eyed mermaid. Her bare breasts and jewel-encrusted hide exacerbate the anatomical ghostliness of the fish-eyed demon. Amat’s sensuous siren song seduce:. with a deadly
abandon.

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