Brooke Benington, London
“The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin. O auto-da-fe! the purple men, Gold-crusted, thick with spleen, Sit with their hooks and crooks and stoke the light." “The tinder cries. The indelible smell Of a snuffed candle! Love, love, the low smokes roll” “Such yellow sullen smokes Make their own element.” Early earth was completely molten, 4 ½ billion years ago the planets formed hot. This allowed all the elements to stratify so the heavy elements sink down to form the iron rich core and the lighter elements rising to form a crust. “Fire is an image coming into being, revealed in a process.” This body of work - sculptures, cast paintings and drawings - demonstrate states of change, sweating ossification. Like sedimentary rock, the future and history are welded. We can feel all the phases from Stone-Age to Modern Design. Dordolo has never made a chair before. Anthropomorphised, the chair has arms and a back, its face is held up and collapsing. There are multiple ears, gaping mouths, a reorganised body. The nose is caricatured before anything else, its right in the centre of the face, everything is articulated around it. Dordolo has removed the eyeballs. “There’s something very direct about being looked at and looking at something. Maybe they didn’t want to stare at the truth. Maybe I didn’t want to be judged by them.” The scaffold is more like a peg leg or wood from a shipwreck holding up a dias of ears for multiple languages: French, English, German. The chairs, with hats moulded from a clay prototype are multiplied and replicated in jesmonite (a thread throughout Dordolo’s work), like a Buster Keaton movie. Early influences from splatter horror movies have evolved a treatment of the body that becomes grotesque and elastic. Fever is a defensive mechanism. Manifesting in high body temperature which may indicate infection, it can also result from physiological stresses, such as strenuous exercise, nervous excitement or fierce passion. It is usually accompanied by shivering, headache, and in severe instances, delirium. Like mythical Gannet blindness it is not clear if this is a devastation consequence or a coping mechanism. An almost primary palette has something to do with leisure and time, soaked in memories from childhood in the south of France. “You can’t look into the sky as the sun is so bright” Shiny, febrile, accidental sweat like the sculptures have been fried, the pale cooked yellow of melted cheese. Dordolo likes talking about cooking,“ it reveals the sculptures and the process, it’s a way to reflect it.” If we were going to describe these works as food they would be honey, Puddingschweiß (Pudding Sweat). Raubvögel (Birds of Prey) is like a banquet painting, a jar, a bird, a wing. Tired of making human noses Dordolo’s turned to birds. In the 11th Century the doctors used to prescribe a rooster, a hot and dry bird as the perfect tonic for a cold. Different states of rawness are present simultaneously: these are regal birds, fish beaked and gill-less in spiced fruit colours of damson and burnt berry and the pouring feel of “noble liquid” and baked in sensibility of raku firing. Glistening effects of light, texture and colour roast jeopardy into the work. Vulture symbolism is linked to death, rebirth, equalizing and cleanliness. Vulcan, the Roman God of Fire was marked by a rite of unknown significance: the patriarch of Roman families threw small fish into the fire. Fever is Troglodyte, internal, isolated. As a state of heat it is the ultimate sickness, a kind of boiling madness. Amazing and distressing – the inside and outside dichotomy that you can be boiling but also cold. Roter Himmel und Verbrennungsanlage (Red Skies and Incinerator) is like a Hestian doomsday engine with chimneys; a potential outlet? As a sustained position, the fever would ravage causing material damage, physical eruptions of the skin, or leaking out of the pores – we are looking for it to go down but there is room for it to go up too. ‘The idea of love as a sickness is well established in literature and music. In popular music, this notion arguably reached its apogee in the sultry smoulder of that perennial torch-song classic, “Fever”.’ The postpunk 80s band The Cramps rendition of You give me fever, sounds like they are feverously drunk, shouting with passion between breathy phrases as the Fever, takes over the body. Fever till you sizzle. In medieval times the heart was considered the chief organ in the hierarchy of the body. In medieval warfare the fire was one of the most dangerous weapons. Fire is raging in Dordolo’s cast paintings - through a window we see a town on fire, in another, a very cropped image burns across the whole surface. Fire doesn’t stand still, it consumes. “Fire can spread but as the artist you can also decide how quickly to fuel it or where you create barriers or hurdles – like fire fighters starting a fire ahead of the raging fire in order to stop it. You can set intentions like that in the studio.” Initially curious about the aesthetic representations of fire, Dordolo alighted on peasant revolts, a time when passion lighted fires and caused real change. Medieval images of fire remain on the studio wall, infernal tongues, a blazing circle or a limb shaped conflagration. The flame initially presented the challenge of blending; the flickering colour spectrum, the idea of blue moving through yellow to red, the hottest and the coldest parts. It has become a cartoon parody, which cannot be blown out. In this year, as Covid 19 continues to fuel our feverish times, this work reflects with great feeling and dark humour our attempts to adapt and cope. The drawings, visionary dreamlike scenes involving suited men, Der Feuerlöscher (The fire extinguisher) and strange architectural bodies on fire, Dom (Cathedral) are angry and resigned, embracing this fever, the sculptures their shivering palimpsests. Dordolo’s work inhabits the fervour of making, straight on, poured, caked in gory physicality with the complex angers and agitations of being a maker in our present moment, and the delirium and turmoil of being human. Like amalagous mash ups of the multiple Gods associated with fire, these flaming beasts, fever factories, restless monuments sizzle with fever. What a lovely way to burn. Text by Emma Cousin for the exhibition 'Fever' with Brooke Benington, London.