As Tears Go By
The Midnight Munchies. The Straight C Student. The Intruder. Over the Hills Where The Spirits Fly. The slightest movement of this slender figure is a clue. Here is a teenager on the verge of tears and encounters, a teenager from the East Coast who has come to spend her vacation in an English castle, or perhaps a Roman villa. A journey between Europe and the United States, at that precise moment when childhood slips away, when another body starts to grow inside your own. In this house, the paintings reflect the teenager’s own image, metamorphosed into a marquise-virgin with child, or a nude goddess with an androgynous bust. She wears chinos, polo shirts, schoolgirl sweaters ... Looking at her reflection, she duplicates herself, becoming the one she embraces, forming a couple with some absent person, embracing herself, naked, in a garden of Eden with a boy. Is it a dream, a stolen image, a reminiscence inspired by the reading of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights?
Each painting reads like the diary of a close friend. Each one brings out a familiar yet unknown heroine, somewhere between Jean Philippe Delhomme’s uptown memories, Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides, Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse, or the lived-in melancholy found in Violette d’Urso: “I described my emotions scrupulously, because I had noticed that in changing with time, we could no longer regain our old vision of things at a certain point, that periods that had once seemed crucial shrank until they no longer occupied more than a tiny place in our minds.”¹
Past and present collide. What the eye pins down art recomposes in this private zone before Instagram and the metaverse. There is no internet, time is long, the eye that lingers on each detail, a candlestick, a yellow pencil, a shirt rolled up at the elbows, it is as much that of the painter-narrator, as that of the subject who has become ourselves.
It is the beginning of a story, and the end of another. Such is undoubtedly the mystery hidden behind this daily life seemingly above all suspicion, in which all doubts, all silences, all identifications infiltrate little by little. Where memory documents, the artist questions and sows the strange. Connecticut Summer Dream? As they dried, the tears became shapes, gestures, colors, and feelings. Just kids. Universal and singular at the same time.
At the genesis of these paintings, there are words, themselves sprouting in the promiscuity of this kitchen where Keith Richard and Mick Jagger composed As Time Goes By, their first song which became As Tears Go By. The one that began with the verse:
“It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play”
Through its chord sequences, this cult song participated in the advent of Marianne Faithfull’s career, and then of course the legendary Rolling Stones themselves. “Come up with something that belongs to you alone,” Andrew Loog Oldham, their manager, had asked them.
For Karyn Lyons, this song is a kind of “sound madeleine”. Listening to it, she immerses herself, blue apnea of Secret Salon, travelling like the Pepsi Generation. Years later, in the pandemic confinement, it acted as a catalyst, the starting point of a sensitive exploration. With Karyn Lyons, G, A, C, D7th, and E minor metamorphosed into a polychrome score. The twelve-string acoustic guitar draws lines through the inner world. We become witnesses, on the border of reality and fiction, to the precise point where absence becomes presence again, and life, a breath. With Karyn Lyons, painting is like literature, “[I]t does not repair, it makes another life possible, it allows the vital flow confined in darkness to circulate again,² to pass from one body to another, from one heart to another (...).”
¹. Violette d’Urso, Même le bruit de la nuit a changé, Flammarion, 2023.
². Jean Marie Laclavetine, Une amie de la famille, Gallimard, 2019.
– Laurence Benaim