Breyten Breytenbach: Breyten

Breyten Breytenbach: Breyten - Omenka Online
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Running presently at Stevenson Amsterdam is Breyten, a solo exhibition by Breyten Breytenbach, featuring new paintings and drawings. Breyten is the artist’s first solo show in Amsterdam since the early 2000s, the choice of title reflecting his ‘first-name-basis’ kinship with the city. Breytenbach describes the visit, a poem he penned in the 1990s, as central to this body of work. Translated here into English for the first time, the text chronicles his memory of Galerie Espace on the Keizersgracht, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1964, and went on to exhibit for nearly three decades.

The visit

in this city there is a house on the canal
with roomy window frames letting in
rippling light as a soft glow
flooding paintings on the walls
and sometimes it rains against the panes

in this house
(I will not visit it)
there is a tiled kitchen
in the basement where the staircase ends
with coffee in a blue pot
and two old cats on the sill
keeping a slit eye out for birds
in the magnolia tree
so slicked by rain
for flowers to bud purple when spring comes
to the narrow overgrown back garden

the woman with the dark look
pouring coffee from the blue pot
passed away here with flowers stacked high
around her bed

on the top floor in an attic room
filled by books
a man lies dying behind glasses over his eyes
and taps at a loss for words
the fish of an emaciated pale hand
on his chest which all purple
is a bruised magnolia

and sometimes it rains against the panes
and perhaps the cats ate the mole-bird of his tongue

in this house in the city there’s a room
of rippling shadows
as love is made when church bells
clarion a carillon over steeples and alleys
with a view through trickling raindrops on a canal
where burghers with cocky caps over the eye
and glasses of wine in their grip
sail a skiff flying the fluttering national colours
and sometimes the flag dips into the water

(I will not visit it)

https://www.stevenson.info

Breyten Breytenbach: Breyten runs until 30 October 2021 at Stevenson Amsterdam.


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