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Olivier Messiaen, Le Merle noir, Alexis Del Palazzo’s Junior Flute Recital
Many unexpected events occurred around my mother Irène Némirovsky; some were wonderful, but a very curious one was the mysterious bond that grew up between you, Dado, my mother, and myself.
Coming across your work – something bound to move and make an impression on me – is one of those enigmatic and timeless relationships. Understanding one another without ever meeting, just down the telephone wire…
Your Birds surround me, they frame my mother’s face. They are so beautiful and, especially, so eloquent, about your past, about a life so hard that it makes my heart leap.
We both know Pain, but we dominate it, me with a living Memory, you through these Birds that will always go with me.
Thank you for having at once an eye and a heart. Irène would certainly have loved to have met you. Never stop making the Birds speak, in this gray world where we need both them and you.
You will be with me, with my mother, with her books, with all those who will come to admire these “Birds of Irène”.
Translated from French by D. Radzinowicz
Toucan, 1968, oil on canvas, 115 × 145 cm. † Posthumous addition
→ read more Photo: Jacques Bétant.
I am meeting you this evening, Denise, for the first time. We had already got to know one another last winter, on the ’phone. Hearing the benevolence that coloured your voice had a calming effect on me. As since then, you have remained much in my mind, I wanted this evening to present you a few lines by way of a humble gift.
Not long before, revising a handwritten piece of mine devoted to the in situ work of the contemporary painter, Dado, I was disturbed by the revelation of certain material in the genesis of several of the artist’s works.
It turned out that, in the course of various interventions in the manor-house at Bez-de-Naussac, Dado’s artistic expression was entirely governed by one particular Remanence – that of a woman, “Maria L.”, the previous owner of that house in the Aveyron.
Indeed, the artist’s resuscitation of the site could surely never have come to pass without the presence of what are, for some, tangible memories – though, for others, they must remain less palpable.
In consideration of what I have just rapidly sketched out to you, I could not prevent myself thinking, Denise, that there might be some kind of modest sorority between Maria L. and your mother, Irène Némirovsky, seeing how Dado deployed the respective remembrances of these two “Shining Absentees.”.
I have no hesitation in acknowledging the fundamental role you quite naturally play with regard to Dado’s works as they concern the memory of your mother.
Your efforts, Denise, in deciphering and revising the text that was to be Irène N.’s final offering, Suite française, were indeed prodigious.
The birth it initiated was paradoxical in the sense that, through it, it was your own mother that you were partially restoring to life.
Dado had initially been won over by the words Irène lavishes in that at once sinewy and inventive language of hers. Then came the discovery of the portrait of your mother. Etched with a persistent melancholy, her eyes already speak of “Intelligence in Peril.” My opinion is that it was for these twin pupils that Dado later decided to become the wily tamer of the Birds of Irène.
These swallows, these titmice, owls, and woodpeckers, all spawned by his imagination, and wrenched – at once amusingly and shockingly – from their prior existence by the artist, form but humble offerings to your mother, to that “Absentee” who remains so present to us all, this evening. These “Birds” – singular winged creatures – also represent the fragile allegory of a yearned-for freedom, materialized by Flight.
I might even whisper in your ear, Denise – as one might share a secret scarcely worth the keeping – that the serenity that characterises Dado’s creative achievements surely constitutes the finest tribute this Perennial Unquiet could afford your mamma – your “Maika”, as they write in the Balkans that live on in Dado.
Translated from French by D. Radzinowicz