ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings

KRONOS by André Durand (2004) (male nude)



Dimensions: 127 x 127

Oil on linen



Then Uranus had more children by Gaia: the TITANS. But Gaia, who had never accepted the fate of her former children, persuaded the TITANS to attack their father, and for that purpose she armed Cronos with an adamantine sickle. And when the opportunity came, all TITANS except Oceanus attacked him, and Cronos cut off his father’s genitals, throwing them into the sea behind his back, some say at Cape Drepanum in Achaea. From the drops of Uranus’ flowing blood which fell upon earth, the ERINYES were born, and the GIANTS, and those NYMPHS called MELIADS. The genitals that Cronos threw away were first swept away over the sea a long time, but finally, from the white foam which spread around them, Aphrodite was born.

Durand’s Kronos
There is grave content in this image, an extremely tragic vision, and a clear prophecy of the end of our planet.

H3. André Durand’s Mythologies Part IV
Paintings inspired by Classical and Christian myths.
Les peintures d’André Durand rétablissent les liens entre le monde spirituel de l’Antiquité et du christianisme basés sur l’esthétique classique qu’il respecte et développe avec beaucoup de sensibilité. Ses représentations sont basées non seulement sur son intuition infaillible mais en plus, il possède une profonde connaisance de la culture de l’antiquité et du christianisme basée sur les recherches et études sérieuses et profondes.
Based upon classical aesthetics, the paintings of André Durand, restore and develop, with respect and great sensitivity the links between the spiritual world of antiquity and Christianity. Durand’s representations are established, not only on his infallible intuition but in addition, a profound knowledge culture of antiquity and Christianity, clearly the fruit of serious profound and prolonged research and study.
Marie Pardyová

Kronos genuflects on the roof of a church. The Titan is about to swallow a large stone covered in swaddling cloth, instead of his last child, Zeus. Although according to the myth Kronos thinks he is swallowing Zeus, the artist knows that it is no more than stone – we all know. We know that the infant Zeus is secreted safely away. Durand has said, “Perhaps Kronos in my version of the myth thinks he is about to swallow the Bethlehem Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes like a Host – Corpus Christi ”.

But this stone is a morsel of earth, a chunk of the body of Gaia, Mother Earth and mother of Kronos. Unwittingly the gigantic son gobbles a morsel of his mother’s body at a pagan communion, a histrionic Eucharist on the roof of a church – above any faith.

“Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26)

To emphasize the sacrilegious Durand linked this ancient myth to the Greek orthodox churches essential to his concept and, by insinuation, the volcanic eruption circa 1400 B.C. in Santorini. All volcanoes are Time’s bombs and the volcanic past and the lofty heights of these churches overlooking the Caldera are fitting for the epiphany of a Titian. So, Durand’s Kronos has a very dense semantic texture.

A sickle on the roof of a domed church calls to mind the Great Church of Hagia Sophia, associated with one of the most creative ages of man. When the emperor Justinian inaugurated the domed Basilica on December 27, 537, he overtly compared himself with King Solomon. This was a signal to the whole world – Constantinople is the New Jerusalem and the New Rome and this world’s highest building is the true centre of the Christian faith. The dome of Hagia Sophia was a sign of Christianity until the capture of Constantinople in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. Since that date, a sickle adorns the cupola the Great Church that had been erected over the ruins of an ancient temple of Apollo.

The actuality of the opposition of West and East, of Christianity and Islam adds some grave connotations Durand’s Kronos. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre were America’s Saint Peter and Hagia Sophia. Can we see the sickle in Durand’s picture levitate?

Concerning the age of Durand’s Kronos, he seems to be a David Bowie – reluctant to accept the ageing process.

He wants to demonstrate that he is still young and strong and bloodthirsty. That he can fight and win. As the king Felipe II says in Friedrich Schiller’s “Don Carlos” (V, 9):

“Die WeltIst noch auf einen Abend mein “The world is for one more evening mine”

And so he swallows five of his children, to be exact, his potential, future-usurping rivals. Infanticide drives Kronos to distraction.

So, he has no age. He has denied age – as should somebody symbolizing time. Time must not age.

But Kronus, as we know, aged – aged at the same moment that he was cheated and a supreme god of the next generation, Zeus, was spared and would live to overthrow him. By swallowing a stone, the body of his Mother Earth, Kronos inadvertently crosses the threshold of seniority.

Time devours Earth. Above this irredeemable act and the half globe of a cupola the symbol of Death is enthroned – a funeral bell, that casts its shadow before the feet of Time.

The secret union of Time and Death is also represented by the ladder that leads to another such bell, presenting its cord to the Last Ringer.

“Dann mag die Totenglocke schallen,
Dann bist du deines Dienstes frei,
Die Uhr mag stehn, der Zeiger fallen,
Es sei die Zeit für mich vorbei!

“ ‘Tis I for whom the bell shall toll,
Then you are free, your service done.
For me the clock shall fail, to ruin run,
And timeless night descend upon my soul”.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust I : Studierzimmer WA I, 14, 82.)

More and more deeply Durand’s Kronos reveals its meanings…
The funeral bell, throwing its shadow between the knee and foot of Time connects the bell and the genitals – an old metaphor, which associates the decay of the world to sexuality.

Most exciting about this image is the pose of Kronos, a pose not encountered before. It must be Durand’s original invention. This ponderous mannerist nude, rendered in an impalpable perspective, brings the upper part of its’ body and head subtly closer to the viewer, intensifying the urgency of the message.

Linnar Priimägi
September 2004