PLEASE NOTE: “As an Amazon Associate, [Need Coffee] earns from qualifying purchases." You know we make money from Amazon links,
and I know you know this, but they make us say it anyway. More info, click here.

Sights And Sounds At The Pickman Gallery: Black Phoenix’s Halloween 2011

It's Halloween at Black Phoenix

I was enjoying the latest Halloween releases from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. You have the classics such as the child-like sweetness of Boo, the more aggressive boozyness for Devil’s Night and John Barleycorn, and the melancholy mix of the bounty of the harvest and the dying of the summer light that is October and Samhain.

There are also some new fragrances in the trick and treat bag. Elegy IX: The Autumnal evokes the stately beauty of the autumn, a scent that is pleasurable but is not subject to the riot of spring. The beauty of the night time that is invoked by A Nocturnal Reverie comes across with musk, fruit, and flowers in shades of purple and black. Even the beauty of a cemetery and those who reside there can be expressed in the poem Nothing But Ghosts as well as the scents of dried fruits, moss hanging from the tress, and violets left by the grave.

Even death cannot stop love as described in the poem Ghosts In Love with the lightness of lily of the valley, white carnation, and white sandalwood. This is countered with Le Revenant which tells of, to put it bluntly, a supernatural booty call. This is matched by a mixture of sweet yet heavy florals like gardenia, narcissus flower, and ambrette seed.

While perusing all these heady aromas, something fell out of the package they came in. I picked it to investigate.


Pickman Gallery card front - bpal

It seems that there is a new art gallery in Arkham, according to the business card from the package. It seems that the owner is from the Boston Pickmans, but not much more. It seems he likes to play the mysterious benefactor so there are no images available from Google. Since I had to be in Arkham to deliver some Latin translations Dindrane had done for some of Miskatonic University’s more…esoteric books, I decided to check it out.

The gallery is located in some gentrified wharfs with the usual oh-so-trendy bars, overpriced lofts, and other hipster locals. I don’t know what unsavory characters used to hang around these docks back in the day, but hipsters with the Innsmouth Look will make your skin crawl.

The Pickman Gallery is somewhat conventional. The usual canvases on white walls illuminated with subdued track lighting. I picked up a program and it described the theme of the installation.

Torment and Reverie is the first installation in an exhibition that exemplifies man’s fascination with the darkness of his own psyche. Hand-picked by acclaimed artist Richard Upton Pickman, the images embody the delightful beauty that is found when we confront the horror of sublimity.

What was interesting was beside each painting, there was a vial of liquid with several perfume smelling strips. Each painting had a unique fragrance that was inspired by the painting. You used the strips to sample the scent. This added a whole new dimension to the art.

The Mandrake Charm by Fuseli

For example, there is The Mandrake Charm by Henry Fuseli. Fuseli was a well-known painter of the supernatural in all its vibrant energy, a favorite artist of old H.P. This canvas depicts a strange scene where an old witch is digging up the magically powerful mandrake root. Maybe the charm will be for the well dressed woman with her. The scent has a heavy note of mandrake with the herbiness of basil and lemongrass, But there is notes of the mystical with myrrh and hyssop, used to give the green color to absinthe. So you have more richness with this dark woodland scene where mysterious occult rituals are being conjured.

Garden Of Death by Simberg

Another interesting piece is Garden Of Death bu the Finnish artist Hugo Simberg. A seeming juxtaposition between the traditional depiction of Death and the garden, usually a place of growth and life. However, a gardener will pull out vegetables, pluck fruits, and cut flowers. Isn’t that Death? But the garden is also about renewal where the seasons turn again and again. Simberg commented about this work that the garden was “the place where the dead end up before going to Heaven.” The scent is a bouquet of flowers that represent death across the world. Chrysanthemum, red poppy, acacia and many others fill your nose like the garden in the frame.

Since we have reached the end of this exhibition, you are confronted with the gift shop. In this case, these perfumes and many more can be purchased at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. So enjoy trick or treating in whatever interpretation you find pleasurable.