Bapo by Nicholas Jose

In Charles Simić’s book about Joseph Cornell’s assemblages, Dime-Store Alchemy (1992), he quotes his own translation of Croatian poet Slavko Mihalić to describe Cornell’s sculpture ‘Deserted Perch, 1949’, noting ‘the very tiny crack in which another world begins and ends’. Simićmarvels at this ‘Illusionist art ... sleight of hand’.

In the absorbing introduction to the stories in Bapo, Nicholas Jose describes bāpò as ‘an unusual kind of Chinese painting that tricks the eye into thinking it sees a collage of fragments’. Under the disguise of collection and assembly, the painter’s hand creates a trompe-l’œil of torn, burnt, pasted fragments. Jose describes his version as assemblage, and like Cornell, who reinvented discarded scraps and oddments, he finds in bāpò an ‘aesthetic of illusion and salvage, of creative retrieval’.

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Published in December 2014, no. 367

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