Homage to Binh
Large vessel 12”H x 6.5” dia; small vessel 4.5”H x 2.4” dia.
Bigleaf maple, box elder, 23K gold leaf, wire, ballhead pins,
Overhead transparency sheet, acrylic paints. June, 2020.
This work is the result of a conversation with a collector who observed, shortly after the death of Binh Pho from cancer in 2017, that all the old wood artists were falling through the hourglass of time. I decided to use this theme to honour my friend Binh. It took me the best part of six months to make.
We see in the following image that Binh has fallen through the hourglass neck of the large vessel into the clutches of the Crab:
Here is a close-up of the Crab:
In the early 1970s I read the book Z, by Vassilis Vassilikos, in which the author used the butterfly as a metaphor for the soul. The book describes the murder of the great Greek pacifist Gregory Lambrakis in 1963, and we meet the butterfly soul and learn what happens to it after the death of Lambrakis, described in a beautiful elegiac chapter entitled A Train Whistles in the Night. For nearly fifty years this passage has remained in my mind and it is the foundation for Homage to Binh. On reading this passage we understand why one butterfly is caged in the main vessel, struggling to escape,
and we learn too why the second butterfly, having left its earthly cage and rising skywards, has wings of gold. We also learn, critically, the meaning of the golden Z, placed on the scaffold of the main vessel high above the prison bars, and we learn from the butterfly the meaning of immortality.
I attach two PDFs which are essential to further understanding of Homage to Binh:
- The first explains in detail how and why Homage to Binh was made and how I came to know Binh;
- The second is a copy of the back cover of Z and a synopsis, along with a copy of the chapter A Train Whistles in the Night