Friday, January 26, 2007

Federer: A Study

As Roger Federer heads towards another Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, playing what is regarded as some of the best tennis ever seen, Sir Geoffrey Montague, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Sallynoggin Community College and lawn tennis enthusiast, provides our contribution to the high-falutin, quasi-intellectual orgy of prose the Swingin' Swiss inspires.

Time, space; light, shade; truth, beauty; Federer, Roger.
I have had the great fortune of seeing - experiencing - most of the great masters' works: Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Tony Hart. It is therefore rare, in my advancing years, that I am truly amazed, dumbstruck by an artist (or indeed by anything, save the many kindnesses I receive from my young Ecuadorean manservant, Juan).
But of late, this tired old heart has leapt uncontrollably at the sight of the foremost artist of our time: I speak of one Roger Federer. His canvas, the court. The racquet is his graphite brush. His easel comprises the unlimited colours and shades of his sublime vision and imagination.
His muse? Is it Athena herself, the Greek goddess whose portfolio included the arts, skill and war? Or sweet Aphrodite, representative of beauty and love, virtues which resound with every stroke of Federer's sublime wand?
If the long-gone tennis of Laver and McEnroe was the classical style, followed by the brutal futurism of the power hitters, how must we characterise Federer? Impressionist, in the utilisation of light and space in the representation of his object; post-impressionist, in the subjective self-expression he brings to his art; or even dadaist, in the absurdity and nonsensicality of many of his most improbable shots.
I'm sure you have your own thoughts, dear reader. Or perhaps not.

Of course Roger Federer poses many other questions of the aesthete. Is he poet, or warrior? Or warrior-poet? Philosopher-king, or idiot savant? Animal, vegetable or mineral?
The sinews of his bronzed legs (might we venture Donatello's David, at this point?), the lush velure of his hair, bouncing elegantly atop that proud but kindly face; the taut muscularity of his chest, pointing the way inevitably downwards to - ok, that's enough of that, thank you - Impropriety Ed.

Sincerest apologies, my dears - thank you Juan, I feel much better now.

In summation, we can see in Roger Federer the final stop on evolution's journey, the ubermensche, yet the benevolent tyrant. He savages, then he emolliates. But most importantly, if, as Emerson said, the creation of beauty is Art, then we must conclude: Art, thy name is Federer.

Coming soon: Sir Geoffrey on Phil 'The Power' Taylor

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