Richard Purdy

Galerie Christiane Chassay

Winding its way through the space here like some kind of neomythical snake, Richard Purdy’s Progeria Longaevus, 1989, comprises a 365-foot scroll of handmade paper whose copious illustrations in gouache form a metaphorical chain of being. Purdy’s creation, through meticulous documentation, manipulates real history, both Asian and Western. Looking at the details, the cartoonlike drawings, we sometimes sense a greater authenticity in Purdy’s ephemeral reproductions of cultural artifacts than in actual historic documents, so persuasive are his visual fictions. There are long passages depicting the crusades, the plague years, topographies, natural disasters, and medieval city plans.

The central fictional character of Progeria Longaevus, whose life is depicted in the scroll, is a figure born in Venice in 992 A.D. who acquires a rare disease that reinforces his immune system (the inverse of AIDS).

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