Contemporary Surrealism

White Oud
Fabrice Pellegrin
Commissioned by Christine Gustafsson and Niclas Lydeen, Agonist
Shana & Robert ParkeHarrison (1999) 
gelatin silver print photograph with acrylic paint, gels and varnishes
Jack Shainman Gallery, Washington, DC


Classic Surrealism—the hard-core 1920s stuff codified by André Breton—boiled with elaborate theory and intellectual histrionics about changing the world. It was about revolution, with all revolution’s nasty, aggressive complications. Contemporary Surrealism resembles the original form visually but has shed the revolutionary rhetoric and now more often than not functions as the visual equivalent of Erik Satie’s aural hypnosis or as a Buddhist koan whose strangeness distracts the mind in order to free it for higher understanding.
“Suspension” and “White Oud” are visual and olfactory koans, poems that present aspects of reality, then intentionally pushes them fantastical. “White Oud” is a prima facie contradiction in terms; oud is, both literally and aesthetically, one of the darkest scent raw materials in existence. How could one make a white version? Fabrice Pellegrin has created a Surrealist answer.