At ASU, Greenaway notes, "we're back again in that crossover between film as an exhibition and the exhibition as a film. The whole film of The Draughtsman's Contract, for instance, is, in a sense, an excuse to display 12 drawings." One superb collage here, "Raphael's Pyramid," cites Greenaway's film The Belly of an Architect, about an art exhibition gone out of control, as well as images of Romanesque sculpture, Renaissance and classical architecture and a text on how to build a human pyramid.
For ASU lecturer and artist Albert Stewart, the pyramid--a recurring image in the show--sums up Greenaway's interest in "classicism, the Platonic ideal, the pyramid as symbol of the ultimate in cultural achievement. But as in his constant use of the classical nude body, Greenaway gives us an image of how oppressive classicism is. Through his work, you get a sense that the Renaissance, which we've lived with since the 15th century, is finally coming to an end."
Tempe viewers will be able to hop back and forth between the screened films and the hanging images referring to them. Resisting what she calls "contemporary museums' urge to hang art in a white box," Lineberry has arranged for the museum walls to be painted gray-green, with the artwork illuminated by theatrical lighting. The plan, she says, is a kind of homage to the exhibition style Greenaway has used in his large European shows.
The work related to Prospero's Books holds a special place here. Lineberry says the piece, "Prospero's Books: A Catalogue," is "a gorgeous display of the books which burst before our eyes on paper and in the film." And the show's most recent works, part of a much larger series of paintings and drawings titled "The Audience" (arrangements of framed and disembodied heads, much as an actor might see an audience), actually began, Greenaway says, when he was conceiving the mythological figures who populate the magical island of Prospero's Books.
Some works, such as "Luper at Antwerp" and "Luper on Sark," spell out in abstracted, painterly terms the narrative construction of a film yet to be made--in this case, The Tulse Luper Suitcase.
But another work from the Drowning by Numbers series, "Handicap Catch II-Pyramids," marks a special moment of completion and satisfaction in Greenaway's creative life.
"The notions that I originally imagined for this scene in the film [in which the central characters, depicted as pyramids in the drawing, play a game of skittles] were beautifully realized on the film itself. The imagination that goes into a sequence either never gets its full implications on the film screen, or you get forced by shooting circumstances into a completely different direction you never intended.
"What happened to me that October day while shooting so rarely happens when making a film."
"Peter Greenaway: If Only Film Could Do the Same" opens with a reception at 7 p.m. Friday and continues through January 15, 1995, at ASU Art Museum at Nelson Fine Arts Center, Tenth Street and Mill in Tempe. Exhibit admission is free. The show also features three talks on Greenaway by Valley film experts, and Valley Art Theatre will screen Greenaway's films A Zed & Two Noughts and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover from October 21 to 28. For more information, see Art Exhibits listing in Thrills.