For twenty-five years, Stéphane Zagdanski has pursued a central theme in his novels and essays that he defines as “the Dialectic of Word and Image in Western Civilization.” In 2013, the French author brought a new dimension to his literary art with an ambitious project named RARE, an autobiographic novel made of 100 unique pieces of art. In a new visual and aesthetical form, Zagdanski explored the same purpose as he had explored in a literary and theoretical form with his books: engaging a reflection about the hybrid essence of handwriting, material and spiritual, and making visible what he called “the invisibility of writing.”

His series Jouissance du temps (Enjoyment of Time), goes one step further in displaying the paradoxical dialogue between word/image and literature/art through the disappearance of the meaning of text into its own graphic representation. Although the words cannot be understood any longer, they are all there, a whole short story taking place on each painting and drawing, expressing the pure materiality of the text.

Therefore, the appearance of each painting depends on how many words the short story contains as much as on the colors and painting tools used by Zagdanski. The number of words in each short story determines the visual density of its resulting painting and, at the same time, the artist plays with the writing tools he chooses (brushes, nibs, chalks, pencils, pastels, acrylic, etc.).

A video of the complete handwriting process, from the first to the last word, is recorded for each painting. The twelve resulting videos of the series (some last more than 15 hours) become a part of the process. They can be edited, time-lapsed, and eventually subtitled in order to make the short story readable again.

Stéphane Zagdanski is a contemporary artist and writer, born in Paris in April of 1963. He has written about twenty books published by Gallimard, Fayard, Le Seuil, etc.

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