Saturday, May 13, 2017

Curiouser and Curiouser


St. Foy abbey-church in Conques, South France is a fantastic architecture, built between 8th and 11th century AD, it was a popular stop for medieval pilgrims. It is a lovingly and quirkily built church with carved pillars, galleries, exquisite ceilings and arches all filled with scrumptious carvings of human and animal figures, strange creatures and angels. It is a feast for the senses- coils, convolutions, curlicues adoringly coaxed out of stone a long time ago. One particularly amazing carving is that of the condemned being eaten by a Leviathan and excreted into Hell. Although what happens to the virtuous is not too vividly portrayed, the tortures of hell are depicted in all its delightfully horrifying and splendid details. 
Compared to the utilitarian austerity of contemporary architecture, this church may appear as an extravagant, unnecessarily elaborate structure, built at a time where days moved slower and artists had time to manifest on stone, every detail of their imagination. 
What I found most quaint and whimsical among all the figures were those small sets of carvings of tiny beings seen on the tympanum. Known as 'Curieux', these figures can almost go unnoticed and they appear to be peeking at the visitors. The photo of this little one is too irresistible and touching because it seem to be existing for no reason than the whimsy of the sculptor and for the pleasure of the discerning, curious spectator. I wish I could meet the person who imagined this. It exists almost as a little inside joke, a small, dear secret, only to be passed along to a chosen few in every century. Oh, this ache. My little muse.

Image: Google.

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