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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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When Art Creates A World
The knock, softly, came late, pushing 3 a.m., but not too late and not too soft for The Artist, still at his easel as he usually was this time of night. He cocked his head, not entirely sure, then thought ‘no, it was a knock, alright’, crossed to the door, opened it, and there stood The Dealer.
They beheld each other for a moment before The Artist said, “Well, praise Jesus! Come to gander at the mad man?”
The Dealer replied with a weak smile.
“They’re all still saying that, right? They’re saying, ‘That guy up there – he’s looney! Stay away from that nutburger; we certainly do’! And, you know of course, they do! Nobody comes near me!”
“May I …"
“But then you said that yourself! You said, ‘he’s gone crazy – he’ll never last as an artist now! Not painting that shite’! And yet, here you are. Oh my god, here I am! I’m still here! How can it be…"
“Please,” the dealer held a hand up, “Please may I come in?”
The Artist swung the door wide, made a sweeping gesture inviting The Dealer over the threshold, then closed the door softly once he was. The dim room, lit only by a few candles and one small oil lamp close to the easel, was crowded with paintings and sketchpads leaning against the walls. The Dealer noted most of them contained the same elements as the work he was there to see, though of lesser degrees. As he turned he felt and heard his boots scrap against the dirt on the wood floor. A narrow bed sat unmade in the corner, a small pile of disheveled and likely filthy clothes lay next to it.
“Your bed remains empty, my friend,” The Dealer noted.
The Artist giggled. “She left,” he said. “They all left after I painted it.”
“Do you blame them?”
“Yes,” The Artist said, his eyes blazing at The Dealer, who had to look away to the window. The cobblestone Paris street loomed two floors below, lit by only an occasional lamp, dark and scented by human waste and poverty.
“I’ve come from Gertrude’s,” The Dealer said.
“I suppose a number of my old friends were there.”
“I’m surprised you would climb up here on such a night.”
“The rain now is mostly just a little drizzle now again. No worries.”
“So then, pray tell; what did my old friends sent you up here to find out?”
The Dealer looked to the painting on the easel; again, those same elements. Hard angles, multiple perspectives of the same subject jammed against each other, primitive expressions rendered in simple lines. All the same mistakes. “It was less your old friends than me, wanted to see you.”
“Wanted to see if I was still nuts?”
“I wanted to see if you were pursuing the same course in your work.”
“And as you can see…”
“…you certainly are,” The Dealer noted, still looking around, not seeing the work itself. The Artist sensed what he was looking for, went to a corner, pulled it from behind a blank canvas. He propped it against the wall closer to the lamp, where The Dealer could see it, silently, absorbing it, his expression of quiet antipathy not changing greatly. “So nothing has changed.”
The artist giggled slightly once more, shaking his head. “Why don’t you look again?”
The Dealer did. “Yes, I have been.”
“No, you have not,” The Artist said calmly. “True most of my old friends have abandoned me. My woman, she’s found another artist to bleed dry, I understand. But there has been a steady stream of people come through here. Most of them, like you” he patted The Dealer twice on the back, “Just don’t get it. But some of them do. Some of them,” he took The Dealer by the shoulders and turned him to face him, “Leave here with it engrained on them,” The Artist arched his eyes wide, exaggerating, “Like a virus.”
“My friend …” The Dealer tried.
“And I know you have seen this work, little pieces of it, outside this room, growing in corners and shadows as your own brain incubates it.”
“My friend, this work is so ugly.”
“My friend, this work is so enlightening,” The artist insisted. “It has revealed new dimensions creeping now into our own staid lives.
“You think nothing has changed? Everything has changed. People just don’t know it yet. You don’t know it yet.”
The Dealer looked sadly at the artist, his mouth gaping. He looked back to the painting, the five nude women posing, absent expressions caring little what consequences they effected, its dull, earth-tone colors and crazy angles. What madman would put this down and call it ‘Art’? What manner of world would this ‘Art’ create? He broke away, could not face The Artist, and moved quickly to the door. “I cannot help you,” he said. “Your painting shall stay in its corner.”
But as he turned the doorknob and stepped into the hall he felt a degree of disorientation, an impression that the world was not solid, that it was morphing, that it was becoming something else, that reality was an illusion. It only lasted a second, but it stuck to him walking home over the dark streets, the cobblestones damp from the rain, the sounds of the city losing distinction and coagulating in moans, the smells, a taste in his mouth like yesterday’s milk. like old wine. He willed his mind, as he walked, to unsee, to unfeel, to unthink, to leave the painting hidden in a corner behind a closed door.
Seven years later The Artist’s work, ‘The Young Ladies Of Avignon’, hung in the Louvre. And nothing was ever the same.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.