Monday, December 31, 2007


Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

the march of the christmas trees...they come, they go, and another year is over!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

une boîte privée

une boîte privée
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

the privileged walks by, inured to the creative usage of recycled cardboard... some may appreciate the striking mural, but not needing to know what it obscures - the stripped down life within a private box along a sidewalk in paris...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

monsieur hugo's plates

monsieur hugo's plates [2007] oil and acrylic on canvas, 46 x 61 cm

now...the first order of mistresses cry their hearts out in serene misery, while contemplating long nocturnal walks in the darkness of the place des vosges...
they forget that monsieur victor hugo keeps watch from his officious perch as a thousand gossamer pages flutter out his sentimental windows...

[excerpted from 'a room in the marais' by g.verster]

Friday, December 14, 2007

les fleurs perpetuelles

les fleurs perpetuelles
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

the quietness of these dusty glazed flowers against the cold marble, sometimes in place for decades, sometimes moved to make room for fresh ones...still, such fragility that can outlast some lifetimes...

Friday, December 7, 2007


Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

sainte-theodora on the rue de verneuil [2007] oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 50 cm
sainte-theodora in her gown of gold reigned from a glass box on the rue de verneuil...
[the blackened doors across the street hiding inscrutable byzantine intrigues from her...]

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

tout sens dessus dessous...

la belle tour

la belle tour
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

on a late saturday afternoon, at a brocante in the place de lachambeaudie, by the little church and the old fire station, a small framed engraving of the eiffel tower wavers in the fading light...
[on the way home with us, great flocks of starlings swooped above in choreographed abandon and further along the real tour eiffel obliterates the night sky with a million of its own starbursts...]

Friday, November 30, 2007

le mois de la licorne

le mois de la licorne
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

like a shimmering unicorn in the rain, so was my paris in november...full of hazy unsung sightings, windblown aerial arias, stealthy wanderings in the dark, coyly photogenic ghosts...

[photo is a still of a video display at the musée de la chasse et de la nature in paris]

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

du pain, du vin, du boursin...

the president is away, the children will play...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

grand palais

grand palais
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

the grand palais is full of courbets right now waiting for my greedy eyes...
g.courbet, the realist...the rule-breaker, the scandalous, the free-spirit, the counter-idealist...the absolute...

"to know in order to be capable , that was my idea. to be able to translate the customs, the ideas, the appearance of my epoch according to my own appreciation of it [to be not only a painter but a man,] in a word, to create living art, that is my goal."...[from the realist manifesto, 1855]...see entire manifesto in french under la belle plume on sidebar

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

brûler le pavé

brûler le pavé
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

soon to be burning up the sidewalks of paris again...
[the abstracted and painterly effect of a wall scorched by the last time I sizzled by]

je brûle de te, paris...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


flightless but still noble at the musée de la chasse et de la nature
classical ghosts on the rue de lille

the exquisite sainte-theodora on the rue de verneuil...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

un équilibre délicat

Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

il est délicat sur le point d'honneur...

Monday, October 15, 2007

les angles parisiens

slices of paris skies burn blue, then changing to polished pewter before a brief rainstorm...
reflecting dull silver on another day...angled into the distance in pearl grey wedges...
[we walk under the green canopy at the palais royal, tarnished by the leaf shadows...]

Sunday, October 14, 2007

cache-cache caryatid

cache-cache caryatid
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

when in paris, I enter every exposed courtyard, every half-open doorway...and as I stand within these portals, I feel drawn into the enclosed realms where shy statues guard the drama of hidden lives...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

castelbajac blink

jean-charles de castelbajac...easily france's most eclectic and eccentric designer/artist/éminence rockandrolled out 40 years of brilliant tongue in fresh cheek ideas in the flesh in a major retrospective at the musée galliera in paris earlier this year..."gallierock" presented not only his iconic collection of playful wearables inspired by contemporary art trends and urban soundbites, but his personal collection of historical artefacts including a size 0 joan of arc armour and a size 2 dressing gown lived in by the exiled napoleon...
exalted audience participation was encouraged on the 5 meter high pink throne...

Thursday, September 20, 2007


mini-sub-château [2007] oil and acrylic on canvas, 90 x 90 cm
south of paris, heading towards bourges, we drove by this newly built partial-château-style suburban-size maison in the woods...
the simplistic dollhouse design with its beaming white walls, symmetrically placed turrets, ballroom window/doors and coyly drawn virginal pink curtains provoked a stop-the-car reaction to marvel at such idiosyncratic approach to nostalgic historical pastiche on a minimal budget scale...

Monday, September 17, 2007


l'atelier [2007] oil and acrylic on canvas, 90 x 90 cm

l'atelier chez monsieur plaskett

a small inconspicuous building of medieval lineage on the rue pecquay hosted the general atelier of le vieil artiste, he who often hides within his own conversant paintings...
therein reigned sonorous gilt mirrors reflecting clusters of crystal tears dropped from the effusive chandeliers while ornately carved arches hung idly around the serene marble busts that rue sentinel over his works on view:
a blue pastel man plays the piano; a stern sea captain sits stiffly at a table; monsieur's flattened breakfast is served by the opened window where the bananas and a melon confront a vagrant pot of tea, and the three wide-mouthed jars sing a sweet, sweet chorus...
florid tulips bunched in a bottle tease the indignant brushes all crowded heads down in a can, fuming at their state of indecorum...
everywhere in a chaos of colours unruly paint mixes in blobs that smear and spill with voluptuous abandon, ready to be stroked onto the next waiting canvas.

'l'atelier chez monsieur plaskett' by g. verster, 2005

Thursday, September 13, 2007

vient, chien

it could be a sign for one particular dog to find his way home, or it could be a sidewalk graffiti for any interested dogs to head towards that general direction for some mysterious encounters...
in paris, dogs can lead intriguing lives if so inclined - sometimes even implicating their unsuspecting owners...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


zola [2007] oil and acrylic on canvas, 61 x 90 cm

ever observant from his personal patch of the sidewalk outside his master's cafe on the quai des celestins, zola studies the gait of passersby, marking their character by the way they walk, smelling their sincerity as they wafted by...

Monday, September 10, 2007


a worn jewel of a bistro set behind the palais royal,
lost in summary thoughts of darker days
when young men strutted about and posed
with the equanimity of today's runway models.
those who would have come and sat for meals
contrived by a vanquished patronne,
she of the rubied lips pout.
marooned in the heart of paris
after so many masquerade years,
she will dismantle the vainglorious namesake
of les incroyables,
and sublimate their commensal spirit
for the decorum of more placid revelations
in the circumspect province...

'l'incroyable' by g. verster, 2004
[INCROYABLE n. m. Sous le Directoire, jeune homme à la tenue vestimentaire recherchée et excentrique, et au langage affecté.]
(petit Larousse, 1982)

Saturday, September 1, 2007


chartier [2007] oil and acrylic on canvas, 90 x 90 cm {SOLD}

on the rue de faubourg-montmartre, camille chartier opened this bouillon in 1895...where he provided 600 numbered pigeonholes to store the napkins of the neighbourhood workers and artisans who came for their daily meals... for l'addition the waiter simply scrawls out the prices on the paper tablecloth and add up the bill right under one's nose...
[we enjoyed bringing our american clients here just to watch their reaction to an order of cuisses de grenouille arranged carefully around the plate like miniature pairs of shapely human legs... sadly, this classic dish is no longer offered... there is an amusing english-translated website for the restaurant: , with its current menu listing, and the prices are still exceptionally reasonable for perfectly basic french fare...
the large mural was painted by a m. germont, dated 1929, in exchange for a few weeks' worth of meals]

Friday, August 31, 2007

madame rêve

"... rêve d'archipels... de vagues perpétuelles... sismique et sensuelles... d'un amour qui la flingue... d'une fusée qui l'epingle... au ciel..."*
at the cimetière de passy, graced by the slender shadow of la tour eiffel, debussy serenades the lovely morisot and soothes the rebel soul of manet...
[*verse from 'madame rêve' written and performed by alain bashung, 1991 barclay]

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

jolis objets

jolis objets
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

the interior design of bunnies exposed to all on the rue saint-paul, whetting or dampening appetites for lapin à la dijonnaise, depending on one's predilection...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

tes yeux...

tes yeux...
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

la courbe de tes yeux fait le tour de mon coeur, un rond de danse et de douceur, auréole du temps, berceau nocturne et sûr, et si je ne sais plus tout ce que j'ai vécu c'est que tes yeux ne m'ont pas toujours vu

feuille de jour et mousse de rosée, roseaux du vent, sourires parfumés, ailes couvrant le monde de lumière, bateaux chargés du ciel et de la mer, chasseurs des bruits et sources des couleurs,

parfums éclos d'une couvée d'aurores qui gît toujours sur la paille des astres, comme le jour dépend de l'innocence le monde entier dépend de tes yeux purs et tout mon sang coule dans leurs regards.

'la courbe de tes yeux', paul eluard [1895-1952], [capitale de la douleur, 1926]

mon enfant, ma soeur, songe à la douceur d'aller là-bas vivre ensemble!

aimer à loisir, aimer et mourir au pays qui te ressemble!

les soleils mouillés de ces ciels brouillés dans mon esprit ont les charmes

si mystérieux de tes traîtres yeux, brillant à travers leurs larmes.

là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté, luxe, calme et volupté.

'l'invitation au voyage', charles baudelaire [1821-1867], [les fleurs du mal, 1857]

Friday, August 17, 2007

monsieur T

monsieur T
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

ever present in my parisian dreamscape, monsieur T indoctrinates me in all things french...
he is my body guard, my tongue twister, my visionaire, my agent provocateur...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

the significance of this number is unknown - it may have been the address - but repeated comme ça, it takes on its own abstracted prominence in an otherwise mundane setting...

Friday, July 20, 2007

la ruche amorphée

la ruche amorphée
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

only in paris can a bin's worth of white plastic cups be simply stapled together into a huge amorphous hive just to display a single pair of shoes...

[the cups may be empty, but art and life are as always full of verve and brilliance here...]

Saturday, July 14, 2007

le génie de la liberté

le génie de la liberté
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

high above the place de la bastille wings the génie, delicate in solitude but free in spirit...

[a phonecall from paris at the start of the day's festivities to remind me that liberty is frequently illusionary at best...]

Monday, July 9, 2007

un neuf de coeur

un neuf de coeur
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

stealing upon numbers on the weathered surfaces of parisian walls seems a somewhat rudimentary perception...until one jumps out and like a cambrioleur slips into the orderly intent of our interior requisition...

Friday, June 29, 2007

le monde

le monde
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

the world under french skies always seems a little brighter, a little warmer, a little more generous in spirit...

[paix+amour toujours]

Thursday, June 28, 2007

l'art des livres

l'art des livres
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

inside the librairie florence loewy on rue de thorigny and behind the sculptural shelving systems, there is a sign:

'pourquoi fatiguer ton esprit d'éternels projets qui te dépassent'...
words already well lived by, but sound so much better in always...

[the portrait on the wall is scratched out of the gummy remains of a scraped off on the fly(paper!)]

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

la royal encore

la royal encore
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

to have been a top contender in such a phallicentric realm must surely reflect a certain evolution of sorts...

[don't let go yet, o brave ségo...]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

les globes d'argent

les globes d'argent
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

only in paris are clouds encased in silver to roll around the fountain of a royal haunt...

[pierre hardy was so moved as to adorn such ephemeral caprices on his much coveted shoes nearby...]

Monday, June 11, 2007


etre [2007] oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm
ma france...toujours douce et simple...
on our way south one road trip, we slowed down for this incredibly classic couldn't be more perfectly staged...
but france can still be like this...lost in time, tranquil, solitary...
not a care in the world...

Saturday, June 9, 2007

paris toujours...

back (very reluctantly) from two glorious and invigorating months in paris...
from sexy summer heat in april and profuse may flowers...
to the resigned acceptance of a new world president for a dated republic...
to the exuberance of riding my bike through the streets of paris, some hectic, some incredibly tranquil...
to savoring that one perfect tarte au citron at the jardin du luxembourg...
to watching "molière" on a rainy sunday afternoon in the quartier latin...
to a may day déjeuner sur l'herbe amongst the muguets in the shady woodlands by l'abbaye de chaalis...
to falling in love with the one berthe morisot painting at the d'orsay...
to taking all the time in the world choosing sennelier couleurs à l'huile extra-fine at the bhv...
to a fête des mères pilgrimage to the magnificent goyas at the louvre...
to a gentle coup de foudre during a late lunch on the avenue kleber...
to evening vespers with the young nuns (and monks) at saint-gervais-saint-protais...
to a midnight romp through the rose and lilac-scented jardin de musée rodin on "le nuit des musées"...
to being fully blown away by the uber-sultry siren ute lemper at the salle pleyel; by the "murs végétal" [vertical gardens] of patrick blanc; by the young talents at the graduate show of l'ecole des beaux-arts; by the eccentric and eclectic castelbajac collection at the musée de la mode; in the frenzied ateliers of the hyper-graffiti-ed frigo art hive; by the absolute raw power of primitive artifacts in the jean nouvel-designed musée de prémiere arts on the quai branly; by the unexpected grunting trophy head of an albino sanglier at the sublimely odd musée de la chasse...
to the inspired and lively frenchmen who make me laugh and laugh so late into many other evenings...
and as always, lovely paris gets under my skin...the divine itch only being slightly relieved for now...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

flirting in the dark

On a tenebrous early October evening, you are drifting down Rue Saint-Honoré for a rendezvous with some friends in the beguilingly darkened bar of the Hotel Costes.
Along the way you softly hum strains of Malcolm McLaren's 'Jazz is Paris'*...
"I wore black on Saint-Germain-des-Prés... Feelings in the air, they love today... It's true, I don't believe... In love beyond the grave... But then I listened to a trumpet play..."
Hmm... wrong street, but how prescient with the de rigueur done-to-death hide-the-stains black. The hallway models/doormen at the Costes are also all in black... tight black tee-shirts, tight black pants, sleek dark hair, chic little black headsets.
You feel like a rounded version of them in your tight black shirt and skirt.
Heads are swivelling, but not for you... Gwyneth Paltrow is slinking her way out the door. A pale high-contrast vision in Siberian ice-floe white.
The dimmed lighting throughout the hotel barely illuminates the exotically lush décor, creating a contemporary Cimmerian milieu.
In the bar lounge, it is effectively a virtual black-out. You feel your way gingerly - you don't wish to inflict any unintentional gropes, (yet!) - towards your table, guided by the sound of your friends' voices.
As you sit down, you squint your eyes to try to see who else is amassed around you. When your eyes have adjusted somewhat, you make out a clumped together couple in the next banquette. No body parts are flailing about, so you guess that they are still safely pre-coital... but then again, they could well be exhaustedly post-coital!
As you order your drink from a slender shadow, you sense heads turning towards a more voluptuous shape entering the room. There is the hint of a tear-away buckskin(?!) dress with fringes. Whispers of the name 'Béatrice Dalle' pierce the air...
She fumbles dramatically towards a table, and a man (presumably!) rises to the occasion. She gestures sensually, or perhaps a little bewilderedly, and he helps her find her chair.
Unfortunately, without a spotlight on them, it is hard to fathom how much more is going on in the darkness, but you surmise that the flirtatious stage has been successful when they leave a while later with their arms draped around each other.
And you have yet to make eye contact with anybody at all! As if that will ever happen in this obfuscated world of the parisian demi-monde...

excerpted from "Flirting in the Dark... as dimly heeded by Mme. V" by g. verster, 2003
[*verse from 'Jazz is Paris' written and performed by Malcolm McLaren on his album "PARIS", 1994]

Saturday, April 14, 2007

libertin's sleight-of-hand couture

On a cold languorous mid-winter Saturday afternoon and after a luscious lunch at a little Lebanese restaurant near the Eiffel Tower, we summoned the strength to divert ourselves from heading straight home for our usual sieste. There was a particularly zesty event that we simply could not miss... our first subversive (of sorts) fashion show in this consummate city that has seen them all and done them all!
We had met the equivocal Libertin Louison, a young Belgian designer with long black hair and wrapped in a long black skirt, at his tiny boutique on one of the narrow medieval streets in the Marais. The wistful wisps of black fabric hanging vaguely on the two sparse racks and draped, barely, on the one mannequin had piqued us enough to enter this minimal goth meet japanese zen dollhouse.
I had not dared to try on anything in case I insulted the avant-genius by putting my head through the wrong opening... or worse, emerged from the change-tube all twisted up with the confounded piece on upside down and backwards!... (- inside-out would have been a non-issue!)

A surprise invitation came for the debut of his Collection Couture printemps-été, and we had our chance to see how all those nebulous jigsaw puzzle pieces actually fitted together on real live skin and bones!
When we finally found the venue's address that chilly afternoon, the building looked suspiciously in the mid-stages of a demolition. We entered with trepidation through the still standing doorway and followed the thumping music up the fairly stable stairs.
Seated spectators lined the maze of hallways on the top floor. Standing room was three rows deep and we were squeezed in so tight that if the floor collapsed, the many other bodies would hopefully help break our fall!
The pageantry had already begun, as one stunning model after another slung languidly by. All were pasted up in multiple configurations of oddly shaped black swatches and embellished with black prototypical accessories, especially those who were topless... while the bottomless ones, well!... nobody was really looking at what they were wearing! (If I had tried on those pieces at his boutique, I would have doltishly assumed that the openings must be for my head!) Concise instructions were obviously necessary to indicate the purpose of every cavity in each of his cunningly composed poly-apertured habillement!

excerpted from "Libertin's Sleight-of-Hand Couture... as drolly admired by Mme. V" by g. verster, 2004
[regrettably, Libertin is no longer using his sly dexterity with the scissors to conjure up more nimble little numbers, but has since followed his nose back to Brussels where he now dispenses his own line of scents and body creams infused with, yes, I am quite sure I read this right, donkey's milk!...the name of his new perfumery is "Technique Indiscrète" on 21, Rue de Flandre]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

miss-tic's hunger for fame

miss-tic's hunger for fame
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

wordplay on the platitude "les fins des mois sont difficiles" [month ends are hard]

graffiti by miss-tic

graffiti by miss-tic
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

gracing the exterior wall of the swiss cultural centre in le marais...

the desirous miss-tic

the desirous miss-tic
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

sexy graffiti

In the City of Love, very sexy things seem to frequently appear around any corner. My radar for such delights tends to be always on full tilt whenever I am here...
Take the unsanctioned public art scene, or what is universally referred to as graffiti. In some parts of the city, hardly a wall, door, doorknocker, and even nail-head has escaped the colorful swirls and pronouncements of such creative ego-marking.
I do not profess to have an intimate knowledge of the French graffiti art subculture scene... [but] much like being on a ten thousand painting tour at the Louvre, I am often stopped in my tracks to appreciate a particularly powerful piece that may be enhancing, or defacing, as the case may well be, a typically handsome set of doors or abstractly weathered wall.
In the Marais district, I had come across a different breed of graffiti work noted for their arresting images of scantily clad and wantonly posed female figures, paired up with short provocative phrases playing on words and double meanings. These are all stenciled onto various vertical surfaces in black paint with red highlights on the lettering.
They are tagged "Miss Tic", a pun, I presume, on the word "mystic" and not referring to the tiny parasitic creature that can easily get under your skin. Then again, that would be appropriate, too!

excerpted from "In Paris, even the graffiti is blithely noted by Mme. V" by g. verster, 2003

Friday, April 6, 2007

parc des buttes-chaumont

parc des buttes-chaumont
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

parc des buttes-chaumont [2007] oil on linen, 45 x 60 cm

"riding eastwards... towards the parc des buttes-chaumont, [which melly had noted as one of the "various 'chosen places' revered by the surrealists, ...that astonishing pleasure ground, hallowed by nineteenth-century suicides, which occupies a long section of louis aragon's paris peasant (1926)..."]"*

thereby enter at your own risk... "with a feeling of conquest and the true intoxication of an open mind."- louis aragon

*excerpted from "Rue des Solitaires" by g. verster, 2004 [posted March 30, 2007]

Thursday, April 5, 2007

"le parfum sucré de vos roses s'évapore..."

"le parfum sucré de vos roses s'évapore..."
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

"Le parfum sucré de vos roses s'évapore... et moi je compose... vous ne m'aurez jamais donné... que le baiser du condamné..."*

*excerpted from"Revenge of the Flowers" by Françoise Hardy on Malcolm McLaren's album "PARIS"

heaven on earth...[part I]

On an ethereal day in mid-March, she steps off the plane at Charles de Gaulle into divine French sunshine.
Her wildly impatient amant whisks her off into the Cité de l'amour... where he has an unheralded welcome offering in store.
She is driven towards the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, the City of the Dead... the largest cemetery in Paris.
Hmm... this is highly unusual of him... somewhat eccentric, even slightly ghoulish!
But for her, the Père-Lachaise has always been more hauntingly romantic than morbidly macabre - the perpetual abode of so many poetic souls... inspired lives no more.
Her curiosity is aroused, but needless to say, not just her curiosity alone...
Miraculously, a parking spot awaits nearby... [it could have taken half the day to find one!]
She is led towards an unfamiliar and unprepossessing apartment building.
On the fifth floor, they enter into a small pied-à-terre. It is darkened, a little musty smelling... almost sepulchral, but unused for some time...

heaven on earth, with apologies to St. Francis of Assisi...[part II]

The shutters are thrown open and she glimpses a bright elysian expanse of Père-Lachaise spread out below.
Small stooped figures stroll along the allées between the crowded tombs shaded by ancient trees whose vernal buds are about to burst open in exuberant observance.
Celestial statuary soars in full melancholic glory... glory everlasting...
She luxuriates in the warmth of the moment, intoxicating beyond relief...

"I often go to Paris to live yesterday tomorrow... because Paris is a place of dreams..."*

The air thins out...

"There's no doubt... in Paris yeah!... There's a girl I dream of seeing everywhere... This way, that way... up against the walls... Voices scream a map of feelings... Everybody loves a Paris lost somehow..."**

Afterwards, subsiding in a blazing state of lightness, a white sheet flutters outside the window, sighing surrender... signing love enacted up on high, where doves aspire...

"Drifting through these landscapes of love... listening to a voice from above... This is a place where you can find... many more of my kind..."**

It is Spring after all, "daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring..." muses Emerson...
Refrains from Malcolm McLaren's "Walking with Satie"* and "Père Lachaise"** intertwine and disperse with predestined abandon into the mood that is Paris...

"And I am walking with Eric Satie... along the boulevards of Paris in the springtime... Un orchestre d'oiseaux every so often breaks this map of feelings... Drifting through these landscapes of love... watching strays from Père Lachaise..."*

[*/** The quoted lyrics are excerpted from "Walking with Satie" and "Père Lachaise", written and performed by Malcolm McLaren on his album "PARIS"]
[copyright 1994, Disques Vogue S.A./World Attractions Ltd.]

"Heaven on Earth, with apologies to St. Francis of Assisi... as blissfully evoked by Mme. V" by g. verster, 2004

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

the seduction of an antique buyer

On a warm sultry day in early June, Madame is striding along Rue du Bac on the Rive-Gauche with her entourage of two on an antique buying spree for her new home [a star-dusted villa once owned by a legendary Hollywood director!].
She is quite sure that only in Paris will she find the most opulent, the highest status-stacked pieces... a paean to her utmost orgulous taste.
Shop after glorious shop in the Carré Rive Gauche... au coeur de Paris... 120 Galeries et Antiquaires... Passions d'Antiquaires... de Paris, Paris...
Which one of these will entice her in?
Unawed, she chooses the one with the most splendiferous objets d'art in its window - and after admiring her flawless reflection ever so briefly in the glass, she enters the establishment with a mock serious air about her.
Monsieur le propriétaire sweeps in discreetly from his salon privé with a twitch of a close-mouthed smile, his sharp eyes having appraised her thoroughly before she is even fully aware of his suave presence.
A soto-voiced "Bonjour, Madame...[and just knowing that she is American, he projects his voice a little more in English]... 'ow can I be to your service, Madame?"
She lets one of her minions answer for her, all the while assessing his rather distingué demeanor... for a Frenchman her age [the botoxed reduced one, of course].
Monsieur continues to direct his remarks only to her, "Madame, I 'ave enough to fee'l your 'ole 'ouse! I can present you wiz much more z'an your be'eu-tee'ful eye can see... and I will be more z'an 'ap'pee to show you my collection privée whenever Madame pleases..." [He draws out the last few words in a softer voice while crinkling his eyes at her.]
She stiffles a giggle and looks away, but her slight coloring betrays her appreciation of his flattering and not so subtle double sens...
Emboldened, and anticipating her forthcoming capitulation, [and somewhat confident of a transaction of formidable size to follow], he shifts closer into her personal space and whispers the impressive provenances of his magnificent pieces in a conspiratorial tone.
She has to angle her head in towards him to hear, but gracefully, and remembering to profile her lovelier side.
He is now quite sure that she will accept his overture to lunch at his favorite restaurant around the corner on the Quai Voltaire... without the peons in tow, of course.
Always pleasure before business... and perhaps, more pleasure again later on...
Just another sublimely successful day for Monsieur l'antiquaire de la Rive-Gauche, Paris...

"The Seduction of an Antique Buyer... as wryly observed by Mme. V" by g. verster, 2004

Sunday, April 1, 2007

rilke's panther

rilke's panther
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

rilke's panther at the ménagerie du jardin des plantes, paris...

visiting rilke's panther

On a gray somber afternoon in late November, you walk purposefully across the Pont de Sully and turn onto the Quai Saint-Bernard towards the entrance of the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes.
You are here to pay homage to a long caged up soul... one that has seized your imagination ever since you had read about him in Rainer Maria Rilke's poem 'The Panther in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris'.
You wonder if the panther is still here, and if he is the same one, now old and subdued... his spirit withered in this forsaken jail, dying a little more each day.
A Panther in Paris... so far from home, from that jungle that was his to roam.
You commiserate, but you are not forever locked up in a cage like him.
You have fantasies of freeing him, but would he come with you now?

His gaze has grown so tired from the bars
Passing, it can't hold anything anymore.
It is as if there were a thousand bars
And behind a thousand bars no world.

You sense his presence as you approach the large cats' area of the ménagerie.
A sculptor is modeling a miniature jaguar in clay at his portable stand; he ignores you.
You see the Panther...

The soft gait of powerful supple strides
Which turns in the smallest of all circles
Is like a dance of strength around a center
Where an imperious will stands stunned.

You are mesmerized by his beauty and his potency, but you feel his saturnine anger and frustration at the same time.
He does not look at you, but continues his pacing, back and forth, back and forth behind the thick iron bars.

Only at times the curtain of the pupils
Silently opens... Then an image enters
Passes through the taut stillness of the limbs
And in the heart ceases to be.

You sadly contemplate his restlessness.
Invoking the spirit of Rilke, who had perhaps stood in the very spot as you a century ago, you observe in silence, moved by what had inspired Rilke's poem.
You appraise his magnificence, yet disturbed at the infliction of his captivity.
You witness the injustice of a forfeited life, and decry his isolation from his own kind.
You ache intensely for him, all the while helpless to liberate him.
Then you, too, have to leave him to be for now.
The deus ex machina has not appeared, and you have to go.
Night is falling, black as his coat...
The Panther remains behind at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris...

'Visiting Rilke's Panther...a pilgrimage of sorts by Mme.V' by g. verster, 2004

Saturday, March 31, 2007

moulin à vendre

moulin à vendre
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

moulin à vendre [2007] oil on linen, 30 x 60 cm

monsieur B's old mill had been on the market for a few years already... the asking price was 20,000 euros, but he could be persuaded...
we were in the neighborhood one bright spring day and made an appointment to see it for ourselves... it was oddly situated, with a tangle of wild brambles and neglected plum trees in full bloom from one direction, and manicured lawns and suburban homes from the other, all in the midst of walnut orchards
still, it exuded an intriguing and rustic appeal... of a simpler time, slower rhythm, a more primitive disposition...

*more photos of the mill on

Friday, March 30, 2007

rue des solitaires...[part I]

On a refulgent Sunday morning in early April, the streets of Paris are near empty. A few intrepid souls are wandering about, perhaps on their way home from a long night out, or on their way to early mass. Some may be compelled to do both...
Not you, however. Proudly mounted on your brand new wine-colored vélo, you try valiantly to keep up with the even more intrepid ML, who is riding hard on his well-used blue bike. You are not sure where you are going; you can only follow behind, and happily, the only cars on the road are parked ones.
ML indicates a northeasterly direction, towards the 19th arrondissement. But first cutting through the 10th along the Canal Saint-Martin, criss-crossing over its many short bridges to faire du léche-vitrines (really only pressing noses onto the glass!) of an atelier on one side, and then that of a little shop on the other.
The rippling surface of the slim waterway reflects the fresh greening of mature trees lining it on both sides. This shady ambience emphasizes the stillness of the setting, a setting that bespeaks the distinctive and intimate flavor of this particular neighborhood, which seems an era or two behind the grand boulevards and the cosmopolitan crowds of le Paris chic not so far away.
Here, the inhabitants carry on seemingly unaware of the formal dressed up city that the world knows so well. Here, too, life slows to the murmur of the flowing canal...
In the pale green glimmer of the dewy air, a trio of old men sit on a bench dozing off after le petit déjeuner, only to be rudely awakened by a troupe of pre-pubescent boys setting off fire-crackers into the water and then running away amidst shrieks of laughter.
Yelling after them is an artisan with a cigarette dangling from his lips and looking more than a little worse for wear. He has just settled into a sunny spot outside his workshop to nurse his coffee and his hang-over. Two teenage girls walk quickly by arm in arm and giggling loudly, eliciting a friendly leer from the grubby artisan.
These glimpses of la vie populaire in the numerous "villages" of Paris are what impress the most... this perceived dimension that entices and insinuates its essence into your memory.
Only in Paris, it seems, do the ordinary details of street life somehow manage to emote a staged or at times, dream-like quality... surreal, if you will, and you can see how the Surrealist spirit took flight from the vital and immanent reality of this strangely esoteric city.
Having read George Melly's 'Paris and the Surrealists' [1991], you wholeheartedly agree with his observation that "The streets [...] seemed in Paris to be the place where life was lived, friendships and enmities forged, where lovers recognized each other at first sight." And it is this " 'Mystery and melancholy of the street' which lay at the very centre of Surrealist inspiration..." [and] " their haphazard yet deliberate strolls through Paris the Surrealists, when in each other's company, were open to signs and portents concealed behind the banal surface of everyday life..."
Riding eastwards now past the sprawling site of the Hôpital Saint-Louis towards the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, (which Melly had noted as one of the "various 'chosen places' revered by the Surrealists, [...] that astonishing pleasure ground, hallowed by nineteenth-century suicides, which occupies a long section of Louis Aragon's 'Paris Peasant' [1926]...", from which Melly had quoted Aragon's wry comment that "The great Suicides' bridge which, before metal grilles were erected along its sides, claimed victims even from among passers-by who had had no intention whatsoever of killing themselves suddenly tempted by the abyss...")
Hmm... certainly a dangerous provocation worth pondering over before approaching such a disagreeable bridge. You hope that all those hardy joggers and Sunday strollers are well-informed of this assertion and will know to avoid the cursed bridge, come hell or high water!
No riding is allowed within the park, so you walk your bikes for a while, passing a large group of elderly women practicing tai-chi together in an enclosure, like so many awkward flamingos at the ménagerie. Feeling slightly disconcerted by so much determined effort, (and by the thought of all those sad and gullible souls lost in the, well, gully), you head out of the park and wind your way down towards a nearby working class neighborhood around the Place des Fêtes.

[excerpted from 'Rue des wistfully explored by Mme.V" by g. verster, 2004]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

No. 18

No. 18
Originally uploaded by gverster_artwork.

18, rue des solitaires...75019