Magazines in a time of coronavirus: Mal
Inspired by MacGuffin, which bases every issue around one seemingly mundane object, we asked the editors of our favourite magazines to share an object that brings them comfort. Touch now carries the risk of contagion, but strangely, that new reality has made the physical contact we do have — and the physical things we surround ourselves with — feel more precious. Up today, Maria Dimitrova of Mal tells us about her favourite postcard.
“I love having postcards around, I lean them on my bookshelves and prop them up on my desk. This is one I picked up last summer at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels: it’s Mars Being Disarmed by Venus, by Jacques-Louis David. I’d actually gone in to see a more famous David painting, The Death of Marat. But there was this on the opposite wall; I think it might even be David’s last painting, painted while he was in exile in Brussels. What I love about it is that it’s almost too perfect, it’s sterile. What did my boyfriend say about it? “This is what happens when you have nothing to fight for”. The revolution is over, Napoleon has fallen, and David is reverting back to something classical. You see fallibility and you see perfection in one image. I find it inspiring to see quote unquote lesser work by great artists. Perhaps the crude motivational quality is that if you continue working and you are lucky, your bad day will look like this. Which isn’t a bad day at all.
I also like the idea of the god of war being tamed by a seductive, sensual force. There is vitality in this conflict, and it feels like an antidote to this strange, contained life we are living. And I love Venus’s bottom. One of the last things I did before the lockdown was see the Titian exhibition at the National Gallery. It brings together his series based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and features some of the best bottoms ever painted. Particularly female bottoms sitting, at an angle. Maybe what this exercise has made me realise is that what I like to have around my workspace is female bottoms.”
— Maria Dimitrova