This will not be an easy blog and i was in doubt if i should publish it, but these prints are so impressive that i will make an effort.
In 1948 Jean Genet published Funeral Rites. An impressive, erotic, grief stricken, despairing novel on the death of his lover. The young hero who was shot at the barricades in the uprising of the populace of Paris against the german occupation in August 1944. Irreconcilable contradictions become the poles between which he constructs a vast, centrifugal ritual of Love, Death, ecstasy, horror, beauty, betrayal and despair. Johnson’s pictures are a translation and an expansion of these principal themes in which the love and physical excitement for his death lover remains after his death. The Hitlerian and Nazi imagery is suggested in the prints and is/was always present in the Genet novel and is the background, which together with the male nudity, gives them an uneasy feeling to the spectator. To understand these prints it is necessary to at least read a short summary of the Genet novel. Now for the technique…. I have seen many prints during my life, but this publication with these 10 prints belongs to the very best of all. All prints are special. Not only because the print quality is excellent, but nearly on every print a special collage is fixed to enhance the print and making it stand out. All prints are numbered and signed from an edition of 80 . Numbered 30/80
On Facebook i found some further information by David Cowper on this edition.
The genesis of this series of silkscreen prints goes back to 1970-72. Johnson, who was living in Tehran at the time, had read Genet’s ‘Funeral Rites’ after a visit to France where he met and talked to Bernard Frechtman, the translator. He was fascinated by the themes of betrayal, depair and love. as well as by the strange technique of the narrative. By 1972 he had completed twelve drawings with collages based on the book. In 1975 after coming to live in France the previous year, Johnson showed them to Genet at the Karl Flinker gallery in Paris. Genet enthusiastically encouraged Johnson to have them printed and in1976 when Rob Jurka of Amsterdam saw them he suggested publishing a series of prints based on the drawings. Johnson started preparing a set of ten plates for the printer and in May 1977 spent a month in Amsterdam with the printer Hans Jansen and completed the first five prints. The last five were completed in september 1977 and the series was first exhibited by Galerie Jurka at the International Contemporary Art Fair ‘FIAC’ in the Grand Palais in Paris. October 1977. (this text was taken from the booklet Definitions of Betrayal Part 1 Funeral Rites) The Prints have also been exhibited at the Schwules Museum in Berlin within the past couple of years.
I will not post any pictures that may offend the readers but for those interested in this very special portfolio by Galerie Jurka from 1977 … here is the link to download the PDF file with the 10 prints.
The portfolio is available at ftn art.