Balthus is a monolith standing in a sea of movements. He has no followers. Or rather had. Martin Eder too paints fantasies of naked little girls and cats. Balthus’ are simple ironies. Eder’s paintings are ironies on ironies. Balthus and Eder both work in fantasy, specifically with the fantasy of the female body, playing that adult fantasy against that other adult fantasy of childhood.
The simultaneous existence of the desires of both adolescence and adulthood in these young bodies manifests itself in the presence of a familiar beast – the cat, which Balthus uses as evocations of reverie. Eder takes these apparitions and pushes them to the improbable edge of felinity, until they become almost mockeries of themselves.
In Balthus’ work the the filth and provocation is in the painting as much as the subject. In Eder’s work, produced in an epoch in which provocation is the norm, his affronts metamorphose into kitsch, as his joy of filth representative of a generation raised on porn, is normal rather than deviant. Balthus’ provocations emanate from ideas, keep a formalistic unity, while avoiding the photographic, whereas Eder’s affronts arise from the images, necessitating a visual uncleanliness, a hyperrealism, a cosmic illusion.
Yet besides the ambivalent felines, the naked girls, the glorious filth, what links Eder and Balthus paintings is the reverie; reverie as both imagination’s source and object, reverie exemplified by the most incomprehensible of dreamers, the most impenetrable of worlds.