When The Fox met The Rooster and Other Stories


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F
olklore tells of a grand race which cut across impassable snow-capped peaks, and treacherous wind-swept shores. Over one hundred editions of the ‘Grand Boucle’ have rolled this giant loop, each writing the triumphs and tragedies of legendary adversaries.

And so it was, Renert found himself on a soft-sunny morning, sitting upright outside the Café au Réveil-Matin, in Montgeron - a small town on the southern edge of Paris. Shortly, a small man sporting an over-sized newsboy cap parked a bicycle nearby, sat down on the grass, and took a long draw on a dusty bottle of red wine. “Will that effect your ability to cycle?” enquired Renert. The small man fixed his gaze on the fox. “I hope so,” came the response. Renert came to understand the man had once been a chimney sweep, and although born in far off Italy, was trying to embrace the cultures of his new homeland, hence entering a new bicycle race, with high honours at stake. Happily, the chimney sweep would win. 

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2020.

100e


The Race of Time
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Now to th’ ascent of that steep savage hill
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Chase anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Ministers of Vengeance and Pursuit
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Of Patience and Heroic Martyrdom
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



The Verdurous wall of Paradise
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Majestic though in ruin
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Demy-Gods on golden seats
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Pandaemonium
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Our torments also may in length of time become our elements
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 16 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.



Of darkness do we dread?
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm
Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm. A limited edition of 20, signed and numbered on the front.
Size 2: 38 x 30 inches / 95 x 76 cm. A limited edition of 5, signed and numbered on the front.


100e - celebrating 100 editions of the Tour de France.

The 100e is an allegorical monograph, comprising twelve plates; each individually capturing a phase of the Tour's history - montaging the places, faces, moments, phrases, language that form its overall chronology. Beneath the competition itself, lies a framework built around three creative icons - John Milton (1608–1674), Francisco Goya (1746–1828), and Salvador Dali (1904–1989). For context, Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (originally published in 1667) provides the fundamental themes: Descent and ascent; Light and dark; Immortality; Conflict; The fall; Restoration; Chaos; Rebellious angels; the anti-hero; temptation; vanity; self-deification; the pursuit of Paradise. Critically, it also introduces the theological concept of ‘felix culpa’ - or ‘fortunate fall’ - which suggests evils occur in order to bring about a greater good. Structurally, Milton’s ‘poem in twelve books’ provides the schema, from which the twelve titles that comprise 100e are extracted: 

Of darkness do we dread? 
Now to th’ ascent of that steep savage hill
Chase anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain 
Pandaemonium 
Demy-Gods on golden seats 
Majestic though in ruin 
Our torments also may in length of time become our elements 
The Race of Time 
Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down 
Ministers of Vengeance and Pursuit 
The verdurous wall of paradise 
Of Patience and Heroic Martyrdom
In 1974, artist Salvador Dali further explored the books of Milton’s Paradise Lost, culminating in Paradis Perdu - a set of ten prints, published by the L’Automobile Club de France. Finally, 100e revisists Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos - eighty aquatint prints created by the Spanish artist; published as an album in 1799. Los Caprichos functioned as a satirical critique of the society in which he lived. Here, American art historian David Rosand suggests “Goya turned the inventive powers of the artist back upon his audience with indicting moral force”, simultaneously “Pressing the limits of poetic license”. This ‘caricature’ portrayal maps how 100e is illustrated - the Tour de France, with all its many facets, reworked with the fidelity of a Lichenstein Pop Art cartoon; both as a study, and a critique. In addition, the photo-montaged image of each 100e plate faithfully embodies the working method of the Dadaist ‘monteurs’ (mechanics), who incorporated actual press photography into their artwork. From L’Auto to L’Équipe, 100e extracts its core content from the very press pages circulated throughout the Tour’s epic history. 

This exhibition carries a unique foreword - Imaging the Century - written by Graeme Fife, author of The Beautiful Machine.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2020.