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The body of Oh Ho_darlin (truetype font)
Ink on paper and mixed media
231 x 149 cm (framed) 213,5 x 137 cm (paper size)
Inv. Nr. 59
Photo: Gil Blank - Courtesy Greene Naftali 

Born in 1973 in Hong Kong, China
Lives & works in New York City, New York, USA

Paul Chan is internationally famous for both his artistic multimedia work, mainly in digital animations, and his political activism. The two ink drawings are part of a series of works directly inspired by the writings of the scandalous Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), obsessed with sex, violence and promoting a philosophy of life unhindered. The drawings are part of a set of twenty-one fonts created by the artist, in which each letter corresponds to a sequence from a hypothetical sexual monologue. Both lexical font panels lean on a pair of men’s or women’s shoes and thus appear as a language embodied. Some of the fonts are named after characters from Sade’s work like the fonts “Oh Justine” or “Oh Bishop X”, some are poets (Friedrich Hölderlin, Gertrude Stein) and some others hint at characters from the recent American political past (George Bush Jr., Monica Lewinsky…). These alphabets are a reduction of sexual excess and violence-based terms into basic units of language in a sort of “Sade-itization” of the discourse. It functions as a metaphor of the sexual indulgence and violence happening in the political and cultural context of contemporary America. Untitled (After St. Caravaggio) (2003-06) is a digital animation developed in an intentionally impoverished style, which deconstructs the Baroque painter’s famous Still Life with Basket of Fruit. The fruit gradually float upwards and out of the picture, leaving the basket empty. By referring to Caravaggio, who scandalously depicted the mundane world in religious subjects, Chan pays homage to the painter through a renewed perceptual mode of representation.