‘Unlike conventionally analytic studies that falter when they reach the 20th century, Blush’s visual and textual explorations quietly pledge to beguile, belie, play around with, and generally embody the contradictory shamefulness and shamelessness bound up in a modern-day hot red cheek. [...]
‘This is as much formally experimental art and social commentary as it is cultural criticism; through their ‘misunderstandings’, the slippery meanings of Zagórska-Thomas’s images and Robinson’s text belie the slippery contradictions of the blush with its simultaneous modesty and desire, voluntariness and involuntariness, affect and effect, innocence and guilt. [...]
‘[Blush] isn’t totally coherent, but neither does it claim stylistically to be so; perhaps, more importantly, its lack of coherence expresses the point it tries to make: if “adolescence is Early Modern”, then a more contemporary time, “after adolescence”, is one where “we do have some idea, but we are lost, basically”. “Sallying” together with this text is a picture of a very nice-looking white bag, open, with a rich pink interior, unattended on a toilet floor.’
– Will Forrester, Review 31 (full review here)
‘In Blush, Jack Robinson (one of the pseudonyms of Charles Boyle, publisher of CB editions), provides a subtle and insightful phenomenology and social history of blushing alongside witty and equally subtle and insightful images by Natalia Zagórska-Thomas, each and both displaying the virtue of lightness that lends their work a polyvalent concision that enables it to keep generating meaning for a considerable time after the reading/viewing has been ostensibly completed.
– Thomas Koed, Volume
‘An elegant, intelligent and beautifully illustrated essay about that exclusively human trait, blushing.’
– David Collard, Review 31 Best Books of 2018
‘If Blush teaches us anything, it’s that kitsch should not be underestimated. Cuteness can sicken an audience if it’s allowed to splash too freely in its own excesses. Robinson’s mild-mannered tone curdles in the presence of Zagórska-Thomas’s unsettling photographs, which seem intent on excavating the obscenities that roil under any dainty, lacquered surface. In this sense, the book constantly points to blushing’s abiding context, that of the tactile and libidinous body. One image shows long maroon hairs sprouting from a toothbrush; another features a white briefcase that has split open to reveal a lewdly magenta interior. These images suggest that fascination with the blush is perverse. Its “impure and imprecise” emotions vibrate, magnetized, between the poles of sex and willful denial.’
– Zoë Hu, The Believer (full article here)
A chink, a gap, a little slippage between me and the other me, the one I’m performing – where the blush gets in.
A blush is a gulp, a glitch, a stammer, a flutter, a flinch. A blush is hot. A blush is an index of confusion. A blush, acording to Darwin, is ‘the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions’. A blush says something and it speaks true. And as with many common species of songbird and butterfly, its numbers are in decline.
Texts by Jack Robinson – with citations from a range of fiction and non-fiction – and colour photographs by Natalia Zagórska-Thomas – including many of her own artwork – investigate the cultural and social history of the blush from the late 18th century to the present day.
Blush – a new adventure for CBe, affording equal status to text and images – is published in association with Studio Expurgamento.