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Requiem Chorus
by Kathryn Jacobi
September 12 - November 17, 1996

Requiem Chorus is an exhibit thematically concerned with the effects of time - mortality, memory, history, and fate. Specifically, this show is about losing my father, Ernst Jacobi and by extension, daughters losing their fathers. to my knowledge, the profound relationship between fathers and daughters has not been sufficiently addressed in Western art and literature; the few exceptions - like Verdi's Rigoletto - were conjured by men. This show is an elegy, which is not, as I now understand, a form designed to honor the dead, but rather an attempt to bridge the gap, to commune across the abyss.

Diva in Extremis (including Requiem Chorus) is a series of paintings of singers locked in silence, whose refusal to stop singing is the ironic stubbornness with which we all confront our inherent muteness in the face of death.
Ear to the Ground, Nose to the Wind is a body of work related thematically to Diva in Extremis. The divided format presents issues of history and fate in a a relationship of consciousness to unconsciousness, fact to memory, hope to despair.
Diva in Extremis reflects interests and coincidental events that have of late riveted my attention. In the Fall of 1990, I Began a serious study of the painting techniques of the Old Masters, especially those of the early Northern Renaissance - Durer, Hans Holbein the Younger, Roger Van der Weyden. in particular, their treatment of portraiture moved me because of the accuracy in presenting visual experience combined with a devotion to psychological truth. Inspired by their level of insight, skill, and devotion, my paintings depict our contemporary reality in metaphoric images.
During the Summer of 1991, I spent two and a half months in Europe, mainly in Berlin with its wonderful museums. The trip had another more personal dimension; my beloved father was guiding me through his memories of Berlin when he was a boy in the 1920's, directing me to his favorite paintings in the Dahlem museums, to the opera houses , to the places he lived, the food and smells and feelings of life there before he left Berlin for the United States in 1933. I wrote to him daily about my responses, and he shared this trip with me through letters and phone calls. He relished my excitement.
I never saw my father again. He died unexpectedly the night before I returned home.
During his last years my father wrote his memoirs. They were a gift for my son, arie. In those few hundred pages he vividly brought to life his family and the early years of his youth, thus making a connection that spanned yet another generation. This, for me, is the power of art.
The Diva, as the central symbol of these works, sings opera, her voice a vessel from which every nuance of human emotion and intelligence is evoked, reaching the most sophisticated level of musical achievement. When Wallas Stevens writes, "She sang beyond the genius of the sea", he is referring to the essence of art: she rises above the natural rhythms of the ocean because she is imbued with the highest level of consciousness, the ability to imagine life.
Diva in Extremis: Requiem Chorus reveals in chorus of women alone, singing, emerging from darkness. They are attempting to come to terms with loss and by calling on the gifts of memory and imagination are attempting to pay homage, and say goodbye.
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