"Non, Je ne Regrette Rien" 1964 - 2008
This became a work of art by accident.
During his first trip to France in 1964, AMA had not really taken on board what a ‘Ready Made’ was; viz. the sort of statement made by Marcel Duchamp and later, P. Picasso and others.
Whilst exploring a war damaged building on the sea front at Menton Garavan (06), AMA found a disused, pre-WW2 war gas stove, the one existing burner of which seemed to exude a clear sculptural form. Not long after, this little item found its way into his suitcase and a little later it had found its way to England, where it was cleaned it up and painted black.
To make it a work of art, AMA felt this simple gas ring needed to be placed onto a plinth in some form. To this end, he shaped up a small rectangle of wood, chamfered the edges, inserted two steel rods into it and coated this putative plinth in an available varnish. The protruding rods were inserted into the hollow ‘legs’ of the gas ring; ‘un objet trouvé’, et . . . voilà !
This little sculpture remained in this form for forty two years; only bit by bit, the wooden plinth became to look more and more tired and and, ultimately, rather silly. During the spring of 2008, AMA thought it time to make a new and rather more interesting plinth. This he did and the result is displayed above.
At this point, it ought to be remarked that the original wooden plinth, having had the two steel rods removed, the two round holes were surrounded by charcoal coloured stains, longtime leached into the wood. These images were caused by a chemical reaction between the base of the cast iron gas ring’s ‘feet’ and the deteriorating varnish covering the wood. As a result, these two apertures looked just like human eyes, some say just like the artist's eyes, and it was inevitable that this sad, discarded piece of wood became the starting point for another piece of work; it did and grew quite unintentionally into ‘Homage to Joseph A, whilst entering on Yellow’.
Returning to the resuscitated gas ring sculpture –
For some inexplicable reason the song, ‘Non, Je ne Regrette Rien’, came to mind and this sentiment seemed like a better title for this 'Ready-made' than simply ‘Gas ring’. Could it be that this object resembled an old fashioned style of microphone as may have been used by Edith Piaf and her generation, or was it the fact that AMA had fallen in love with this song at about this same time as discovering France with its still war-damaged buildings and unusual artifacts as well as my burgeoning interest in art?
Anyway, he certainly doesn't regret having spent time on this little exercise and, if somebody does want to buy this enigmatic little piece, 'Il ne le regrettera pas'.
Cast iron gas ring on wooden base with various varnishes
25 x 19 x 14.6 cms.