Images of two pages from a collaboration between artists at the Cité des Arts and writer David Leblanc arrived in my inbox this morning. I’m so glad to see the drawings and text together! David was here for a few months on a writer’s exchange between Quebec and Paris. A number of artists were involved in this collaborative book project. We each made one page, to which he responded with a text. He also then gave us a text, to which we responded with our art. It was very different for me to work with such a small scale, and a joy to interact with text. The book includes drawings, paintings, collage, photography. I haven’t read them all, but have had a chance to read a few of his texts, and they are just as varied in style and subject matter. It is quite an accomplishment on his part, and a fun challenge for me. I look forward to seeing the end result!
And mountains of fruit surrounded her in the narrow shop. Behind her were shelves of melons: cantaloupes, with warty little bumps, maraîchers, with their skin like gray lace; and culs de singe, with their smooth bare humps. The beautiful fruits were on display, delicately arranged with the roundness of their cheeks, half hidden in the baskets like faces of beautiful children, partly concealed by leaves. The peaches were especially beautiful, peaches from Montreuil with clear, soft skin like northern girls’ and yellow sunburned peaches from the Midi, tanned like Provençal women. The apricots lying in moss had the amber glow of sunset shining on dark-haired girls. The cherries stacked in neat rows looked like the narrowed lips of smiling Chinese women; the Montmorency cherries like the chubby lips of fat women; the English cherries, longer and more serious; the heart cherries with dark flesh bruised by kisses; the bigarreaus with pink and white splotches and a smile both joyful and angry. The apples and pears were in piles as regular as architecture, tall pyramids with the flushed color of developing breasts, golden shoulders and hips—discreetly naked among the ferns. The apples all had different skins; the baby-soft pommes d’api, the shapeless rambourgs, the calville dressed in white, the ruddy Canadas, the blotchy-faced crab apples, and the freckly reinettes.
Then came the pears, the blanquettes, the anglais, the buerrés, the messire-Jeans, the duchesses, either stubby or elongated with swan necks, yellow- or green-bellied, flushed with a touch of red. Beside them lay the plums, transparent and anemic with virginal softness. Greengage plums, a favorite of men, were as pale as the blush of innocence. The mirabelles, gathered like golden beads of a forgotten rosary, were stored in a box with sticks of vanilla beans.
The strawberries exhaled a scent of youth, especially the smaller ones, which are gathered int he woods, rather than the larger garden variety, which give off the dull scent of a watering can. The raspberries added their scent to this pure fragrance. The currants, both red and black, and the hazelnuts al smiled with an air of confidence, while the baskets of grapes in weighty bunches, heavy with drunkenness, swooned over the edge of the trellis, their colors deepening in spots where they were touched by the sun’s voluptuous warmth.
The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola