Ineffable Gesticulation!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 Comments Off















(Please excuse, misspellings, grammatical errors, and overall pretentiousness.)

Painting thesis transcript:

Dear Painting,

I am searching for the correct salutations, but I am at a loss. So I will just say hello, and that should suffice for now. As you know, I am no wordsmith. I will try and be brief, and with the use of the most primary of colors, hopefully I will be somewhat coherent.


I write to you in regards to the status of our relationship. Several things have changed in the last few years, and I feel that this is a good time to try and evaluate what exactly is happening and has happened between you and I. With each year we grow further apart and I am forced to approach you in different manner. I am required to reorganize and alter my thoughts about you regularly, to keep our lines of communication open. You constantly change. And this is to be expected. As long as I have known you this has been the case. But as I grow older my ability to change seems to be dwindling, and I’m often hard-pressed to keep up with you. And because of this, you often seem very unfamiliar to me. I just can’t quite figure you out. But, if I have learned anything about you it’s this: you’re consistently inconsistent.
It is very easy for me to speak retroactively about the beginning of our relationship, though I don’t think I could have spoken much about it at the time. It seems so long ago that we met. I was young and you were different. You seemed to be occupied with the melodramatic. I was interested in the same. We both shared common interest in simple familiar forms. An apple, for instance, could charm us for the duration of a whole afternoon. In these things, we discovered a common ground. We found a cure for each others indifference. The recognizable became our way of communication, and the melodramatic became our dialect.
The things we made together were quick and uninspired. They were built on a foundation of brown, a kind of brown that dries up, cracks, and eventually crumbles. I’m not saying that our expertise in the cultivation of mud was unhealthy. It wasn’t. It was very necessary for us to understand the importance of brown. Brown was the soil, and it was part of the earth. Like us, it was a splendidly dull. This identification with nature was paramount during the formative years of our partnership. We sifted through the empirical brown searching for “truth.” “Certainly, a giver of life would share its secrets”, we thought. During this time fact came in a variety of brown tones and shades. In fact, most of the old paintings we looked at had a peculiar brown patina that made them so (in)credible. These paintings were unquestionably the truth and brown was the filter we viewed them through. And it was in our brown pictures, that we also discovered the immediacy of painting. The swift transition between perceived nature and artifice, made it almost impossible to discern a difference between the two. And we found love in these gestures made from shades of earth. Truly, things were good. We had developed a relationship that was firmly rooted in our perception of the natural, and because of this, everything blossomed.
We were botanist. Equipped with the knowledge of brown and a savvy of form, we grew many paintings, out of the nutrient rich pigment. The portrait, the figure, and a bit of white pigment became our new recipe for construction but unfortunately not for duration. In our haste, we neglected anticipate the death of our creations. We were so consumed with creating these things, that their inevitable demise shocked us. These things, that were once beautiful, withered and died. They lost their luster and became unimportant to us. They were no longer special. They were now ugly. This was not the romantic death that we so often fantasized about. This death was a cold stale white, like the complexion of a corpse or the interior of a doctor’s office. It left us with nothing but the knowledge that we couldn’t grow and sustain anything. Out of the whiteness we had indeed grown sterility.
…Then along came chroma. Chroma was freedom from the whiteness. It was a freedom from death. It was purity. Color was no contaminant. White was!
I will try and refrain from talking too much about color. Not because I think that color was(is) something dangerous, but because I really know very little about it. It did indeed stimulate our relationship though. It exposed us to a vibrant world, where skies were cerulean blue and the sun was cadmium yellow. Color was the new filter through which we viewed the world. [To be clear, I am not referring to color as some kind of drug. It wasn’t. Though its Effect may have seemed comparable at the time and there was indeed a lot of “mixing” and “experimentation” going on, I remain certain that it was a different kind of intellectual stimulant.] It was not a quick fix however.
You see, color did provide an immediate gratification. But the sensation was short lived, because I didn’t understand it. Still don’t. Color was too complex. It was too intellectual for us. At least it was for me. I think that the use of color requires a unique type of intelligence. Only someone who understands the properties of paint has the ability to understand how it can produce light. For unsophisticated minds like me, it was magic. I was a caveman with a lighter, and just like him I had no idea how to use it. But you certainly did.

You know, the more I get to know you the more sophisticated I understand you to be. And I’m not sure if you noticed but I really do not “function” well around sophisticated intellectuals such as yourself. To quote Alvie Singer in Annie Hall:
“That’s one thing about intellectuals: They’ve proved that you can be absolutely brilliant and have no idea what’s going on.”
Or maybe I’m just bitter because I have no idea what’s going on most of the time. It’s not because I didn’t have a go at it. I tried to be intellectual (it didn’t work). I hung out with the art kids (they hated me). I read a few books (I missed the point). I tried making things that we could hang our concerns on (it didn’t work). But, my greatest failure was loosing touch with you, and I can’t help but to think back to that old movie. I think about Alvie and Annie and their failed relationship. I think about how much Alvie loved Annie, and think about her indifference towards him. It seems some relationships just won’t work, no matter how much we want them to. So why do we try? Why do I try? Well, I keep coming back to Alvie and his anecdote:
“This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken. The doctor says, “Why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s, now how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational, crazy and absurd. But I guess we keep going through it because…most of us need the eggs.”
Maybe you’ll never love me, and maybe I’ll never really know you. But I have found significance in the trying.
Stuart

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