#74009 42 X 29″ mmp
Two worlds, two lifeways. Toulouse-Lautrec painted a large six-figure (originally eight until the framer chopped it) canvas of the Salon at the Rue des Moulins. Chen has taken part of that canvas as the totem to represent the demi-monde. Ribera’s monumental square painting shows executioners preparing the martyrdom and a passel of onlookers. Chen has eliminated a dozen figures and used only the parched, naked body of the apostle, the vertical mast, and the crossbar raising the figure. By adding a few buildings of the Utrillo style he makes the impression that the execution will transpire on a Paris street. The scene fills the window of the bordello. The two women in the foreground are oblivious, but the girl on the far right in mockery appears to be offering herself. In the upper left Chen has inserted a vignette of Jane Avril on stage behind a drapery from a poster strongly influenced by the work of the Japanese Hokusai, Utamaro, ans Shundo.Chen’s composition is a strong manifestation of diagonal lines and triangles. It is sufficient to point out and contrast the arms and legs of Bartholomew, the woman in the black stockings, and Jane Avril.
– Lawrance Jeppson