Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 10433 “We don’t get to vote in many of the most important decisions of our lives; they are handed to us by larg- er imperatives, such as our parents and/or political structures. Queen Elizabeth shares this powerless- ness with us. I respect her as a woman and mother and I respect her devout dedication to the role she was handed in 1952, the year I was born.”1 The painter, sculptor, poet, and philosopher Simon Raab was born in Toulouse France in 1952. His mother comes from Luxembourg, his father from the former Czechoslovakia. Raab grew up in Canada, studied surface physics and mechanical engineering in the USA and Canada, and then received his doctorate from Montreal’s McGill University. While not unfamiliar with art, technology lies closer: in 1982, Raab established FARO Technologies, a global company that specializes in biomechanical devices and laser- supported precision measuring instruments. The idea of an artwork that is neither pure painting nor pure sculpture only gradually assumed concrete form. Parleau is a mixed form in which quite concrete, figurative images based on photographic originals are applied with polymers to sheets of aluminium and steel before being first worked on with a pneumatic hammer and later a normal hammer until they take on that relief-like “pictorial form” that fits into a wooden frame (or even overlaps it). What emerges is a surface that calls to mind reflections on water— par l’eau—since the curvatures and reliefs follow the contours of the image in a manner that resembles refractions in clear water. The vibrant polymers contribute to the fact that the images (which are predominantly portraits) first take shape gradually on the retina of the viewer. In fact, the more decisively the eye composes the chaos of the “refracted” lines into an image, the more distinct the relief appears. In the three Parleau images of Queen Elizabeth II—from her coronation to a portrait of her in old age to a posthumous image of a skull (Royal Skullduggery)—the various “rippling surfaces”2 are organized in such a way that the ephemeral nature of human existence is also explicitly addressed at the same time. In Parleau Newton’s Apple, it is the ironically refracted history of his “apple” that stands in the foreground. Isaac Newton, as the legend goes, was supposed to have been hit by a falling apple while napping under a tree; this led to him thinking out the Universal Law of Gravitiation3 , which along with his infinitesimal calculus, are amongst the pioneering discoveries of the mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. There, therefore, seems to be an arcane legitimacy in the fact that in his art, Simon Raab indirectly indi- cates the private, on the one hand, and the political and scientific, on the other, as its most important, constitutive elements. In Raab’s piece, Isaac Newton holds the bitten apple out to the public (as if it had just been picked from the Tree of Knowledge), while another scientist, namely Freeman Dyson (author of numerous inventions in quantum mechanics, quantum electronics, and mathematics) just gazes intensely at the audience. Raab has understood that the physicist Dyson4 is possibly the only person who can con- tribute something of substance to the problems of the warming of the atmosphere, while, nevertheless, occupying himself extensively with the possibilities of life on other planets. Respect for the person portrayed is thus logically one of the most important aspects in Raab’s work, since this alone seems capable of taming the alleged chaos—of the world, of knowledge, and of existence. Otherwise,“… (We) see deformable spaces, particles in two places at the same time and flowing probabil- ities. Alas, to be closest to reality we must let go of our preconceptions and false anchors.”5 Simon Raab’s reflective remarks and postulates regarding his work belong to a fine tradition in English painting. To this very day—as in Blake’s time—philosophical and artistic considerations go hand in hand with the works of English (but also American and Canadian) artists. In a sense, they are like a permanent companion to the individual’s own artistic development. The entire Parleau series is thus an attempt to master the “chaos of the world”: its protagonists function paradigmatically as a “vehicle” for an increasingly self-ordered world with which one is able to identify. The scientist Raab knows exactly which of the numerous theories that allow for the “survival of The Biographical and theAtmospheric From Isaac Newton to Queen Elizabeth II and Freeman Dyson