Artist: Than Hussein Clark
Venue: Damien & The Love Guru, Brussels
Exhibition Title: The Paintings of Selma Vaz Dias
Date: September 6 – October 24, 2019
Full gallery of images, video, press release, and link available after the jump.
Than Hussein Clark, Chamber Music for Europe (Nonent for Selma Vaz Dias) by The Directors Theatre Writers Theatre, 2019, 06:53
Images courtesy of the artist; Crèvecoeur, Paris; and the estate of Selma Vaz Dias. Photos by Mark Blower.
If exhibitions are an attempt to translate and stage an idea in space, this exhibition might be said to be an an attempt at translating the name of an actress – Selma Vaz Dias – into a kind of portrait within the stage of the gallery. Such a portrait is difficult task -in the words of WH Auden, “Proper Names are Poetry in the raw. Like all poetry, they are untranslatable.” My admiration for actresses I would hope at this point is well known, my affection for this particular actress is perhaps not.
Selma Vaz Dias, born in 1911 in Amsterdam, she came to England aged eleven and was schooled in this country and then: ‘trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (R.A.D.A.) where she was discovered at the age of sixteen for her first West-end part – the lead in “Red Rust” opposite John Gielgud and Ion Swinley. These were followed by: “The Matriarch”, with Mrs Patrick Campbell, and a season at the then new Westminster Theatre under Tyrone Guthrie. Notable among the many and various parts she played are: Sara Disraeli in “Young Mr Disraeli”, the mother in “Golden Door” on television, Anne Marie in the original production of “Thunder Rock” and Gisela in “Dark Summer”. She was the first Solange in Jean Genet’s “The Maids’, played in the original French at the Royal Court Theatre and later in an English version. Subsequently she played the leading part of Irma in Genet’s world premiere of “The Balcony” at the Arts Theatre. She also appeared on stage as the Ratwife in “Little Eyolf” at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and The Mother in “Jaques” at The Royal Court Theatre.
Well known on films, television and radio, she was the first actress to do an hour’s monologue on the Third Programme – her own adaptation of “Good Morning Midnight” by Jean Rhys. Selma translated several plays for television, the Third Programme and the stage. Although of Dutch origin, she had the honour of playing Queen Elizabeth I of England in the first performance in this country of ‘Son et Lumiere’ at Greenwich Palace with Sir Laurence Olivier. This was her second appearance at The Theatre Royal, the first being in “Don Juan or The Love of Geometry” with Eric Porter and Moira Shearer.’
Continuing his explorations of visual and theatrical economies and the queering of value, Than Hussein Clark presents a suite of nine paintings by the ground breaking Anglo-Dutch actress Selma Vaz Dias, unseen since the 1960s. Vaz Dias, known for her pivotal role in the early reception of both Jean Genet and Frederico García Lorca and the internationalisation of the English stage, was also a writer, producer, and political activist and began painting in the early 1960s until her death in 1977.
Chamber Music for Europe (Nonent for Selma Vaz Dias)
The exhibition will be followed by the premier of Than Hussein Clark’s newest theatrical work with the Director’s Theatre Writer’s Theatre. Drawing on the unpublished autobiography of Vaz Dias, ‘The Property Of…’, this new play addresses the actress’s pivotal and misunderstood role in the rediscovery of the Anglo-Dominican writer Jean Rhys, her proximities to the early histories of psychiatry, and her ground breaking work as a female producer of cultural material – plays, films, writings, and paintings.
September 8, 2019 at 8 pm , Flagey Studio 1
‘With thanks to the estate of Selma Vaz Dias’
‘The ensemble of The Director’s Theatre Writer’s Theatre – Henry Ashton, Markus Bernhard Börger, Steff Golding, Lisa Heinrici, Malwina Kajetańczyk, Valerie McCann, Luis Odriozola, Laura Schuller’