Picasso, Dead Can Dance

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Picasso, Dead Can Dance
I forget how much pain there is in Picasso because the painting looks so fast and sure, so solid yet ephemeral that it looks like marks of joy, exuberance. How he ages before us. How quickly in a retrospective the young Spaniard  the Minotaur  the bull, the goat, the satyr become the old clown painting, so quickly, the young bemused model. The old painter, unfinished with things, prodigious, self caricatured.

i came sad away from the gallery with my friend the lycanthrope and our friend, the photographer Zoe into the sweltering and nudging glare of hot cubist city viewpoints. We shared thoughts about our preferences on the steps in view of a Henry Moore statue. A writer I knew had used the place where we stood in a story he wrote so I saw it through his prose as it was before the gallery’s last face lift for a bit, remembering a bag lady character in that prose arranging apples, windfalls she’d bagged in a park, perfectly good eating apples. She was chased off.

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I’d stood close as an arm’s length to the pictures, to one side, so as not to block views, neither wearing or wanting a headset guide nor glancing even once in relief at a little explanatory placard dressed to the left of each Picasso. I came away realizing with soft, judding shock how the objectified, or at least painted flesh i saw in some pictures was seen and painted by Picasso like I see your body up close in lovemaking, or in waking from sleep, restrained by your embrace and aroused by the restraint.
I suppose the paintings of his women never touched me on that feral, sexual level but that one male nude did get to me. It was painted, a study with an eye to a planned brothel painting. It’s jaw line and abdomen did get me. They were signs of you. I think I read somewhere that that mebbe four by five foot picture was a study for a sailor for the bottom corner in a version of the Mademoiselles of Avignon  painted over, excluded.. It’s providence and the narrative I assume here are makeshift. It did touch me into panic so I didn’t care whose view I blocked, I got up close, in the way of others. I saw a laconic guard become a vigilant blur in the corner of my left eye. I stood like a respectful lover though, within the context of gallery viewer and object.
Oh I’d read that the nuzzling and body being right under his nose under his own body or over, at least in memory, accounted for those depicted subjective privacies, those distortions too familiar from fucking with one’s eyes wide open to be distortions, those dead-on displacements, but i had not viscerally noticed the detailed sex, the pain and the pleasure and the abandonment, the courage and cowardice in the face of love until I stood before a painting of a young sailor with a jaw line and a belly like yours studied mebbe a century ago and I saw you as you are when close to me, a flesh scape enthralling. Abstracted.

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Like any painter I guess looking at a big Picasso show, sampling the curated periods, I had felt at first on entering the galleries a sense of my own shortcomings and errors in manner, indeed an awareness of flaws in my own temperament. That egotism dissolved very quickly and I thought more of Picasso and my love of painting than I pondered the crap shoot of birth and blessings. “Comes love nothing can be done” I said to my self. I’ve heard said he painted with a child’s freedom but that’s bullshit. I may see as a child sees now and then when I look at those things but he was no case of arrested development or for that matter of decline. That would be me. He said, I believe, that he could draw like a master as a child and then had to learn to draw as a child.

Our technology allows the wolf and I to trade self portraits back and forth quickly on-line. We are interested in what we are turning into and how it shows and we document our visual shifts and stylistic intentions every little while in staged self shoots. It is bizarre I know. We are vain, technologically privileged men who photograph well. We note that we have never had to explain ourselves to one another. We create a mutually plausible narrative about our world together and apart. Perhaps in such cases there is not so much need of words, and in our urgency for transformation, for the realization of fantasy, erotic or otherwise, the digital pic is the medium more efficient in our exchange than verbage. We present.

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Later in the day I modeled for Zoe, the photographer, happily engaged under her steady gray eye in an underground garage while the wolf held the flash apparatus toward me like a torch. I mugged on command for the flash and all it entails. I was aware of The wolf beyond the glaring focus, grinning at my clowning. I thought of painting you up close when Zoe asked me to think of something that moved me deeply. I thought of our recurring discussions, like things out of Doris Lessing novels, about courage and cowardice in the face of love. How I no longer even think of asking you to sit still. How I painted you from photos taken in trucks and on trains.
There is little photographic evidence of the wolf and I together so I was nervous when he was directed into the frame, into view for a few shots of us together then. I seek to capture you both, if not for myself then even more pretentiously for painting but there are few sentimental candid shots of us together.

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There we were comrades in the game of presentation to one another and to the camera. We stood side by side in jeans and tshirts sizing each other in a compartment in a labyrinth underground.
Our poker faced love. You said I had a right to be human, that it was hard what we were trying to do. I doubted we found it all that difficult. I wore both your bite marks.

Then it was me alone again for closeup up, my head gear a black fedora over a bandanna. Zoe and the wolf discussed something about me they wanted captured but they never told me what it was. They had discussed my character for depiction. There were few directives. Something Zoe saw last night in a gesture. I’d wiped my face at a concert watching the band “Dead Can Dance”, the singer Lisa Gerrard ten feet away sang passionately but was icy in demeanor, only a raw twist of the mouth showing feeling and the castanets held in her pale hands twitching spasmodically. The ice queen made my eyes water a bit. The wolf pointed at a series of raw picture files later on his laptop screen, pictures of me thinking about something important to me and said he knew i was thinking of you.

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Later on a balcony the wolf bade me dress in the shreds of his oldest jeans and later, bound under leather straps,elegantly rubber gagged and luxuriously blindfolded, I heard the camera clicking, my control given up to the photographer’s eye entirely. The relief of relinquishment  of objectification, shuddering in my odd, long body.
I needed anonymity and cigarettes after the shoot in the evening so i walked out in the piss smelly urban heat and sat on a street corner in the gay village sharing my cigarettes, but my generosity extended not to the sip of my coffee a smokeless girl requested. I was still posing, that reflex, I’m always voguing, imagining a lens, accustomed to childhood and then to juvenile and then to professional surveillance, presenting myself as carnival rough trade, a saltambique of sorts under a corner bank pedestrian camera. I rewrote a sentence in my head for a poetic blog post about Picasso, a post accompanied by flattering pics. I thought maybe I’d dare to impose a considered narrative on reality.slp dressing

You and I discuss the propensity to compose mutually believable or desirable narratives, the tendency to collude in social reality or illusion.. We see how narratives provide cohesion for groups, how narratives create spectrums of groups, and no one has all the data or nerve or sense. The unshakeable. The cage of privacy. The freedom of it. Lately I’ve written only privately, mercilessly tentative so far as establishing a narrative. Anything more comprehensive than a dateline provided way too much information.was just speculation. I’ve no longer written long letters to the wolf or to you.

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I haven’t posted anything in a long time, immobilized when it came to writing while riding trains and ferries, unfamiliar beds a norm, all good beds too with you. Cafes. campsites. I traveled but I was immobilized when words piled up in my head and I considered a narrative. The jumbled pile of words behind my brow. The shoulder-high heave and wallow in a hoarder’s basement. Just more posing and blather to romanticize paintings or to explain their origins to a few elitist types, clients on-line.

I wondered if you wished I was beside you then eyed a hard pale shirtless torso loping up the street. He stood across the street from me and when our eyes met he discretely sucked his index finger. I looked up and saw the ad for the Picasso show on a billboard near me, the most identifiable and publicly palatable of the assembled paintings, one of Dora what’s her name reproduced to lure the punters to the big show.

wolf and parking garage photos courtesy of Zoe Gemelli

others by David ?

paintings by Rocky L. Green

Sun Flowers

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I haven’t posted for a long time. I’ve written, but haven’t posted. I’ve painted all along. I traveled some. Markets drop. galleries come and go like hype. You scrape along. you know you must be good at what you do cause people ooh and aw when they come into the studio and get a little flustered when you meet them off the wall, off Facebook, if they’ve seen your hype and press. People figure you’re doing well and claim your subject matter. people talk about the importance of art and how they want to support the arts but they mean being present at showings, not buying something. you rely on commissions inside your range of subject matter. its okay.

Time races. lovers keep one young and wear one out at the same time.I tend to paint their portraits and in thinking about presenting them as they present themselves to me, I write about them, about the connections, strong and fragile between us. I discover rooms and landscapes, interiors, terrains with their elbows against mine and the writing becomes too personal, compromising for a blog piece. Or I become too cowardly to say.

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People get dissatisfied, they have identity crises   and read light weight self-help books  about how artists are in touch with something spiritual, enviable,  and they come to the studio shyly looking,  But there is no quick fix for undeveloped skill and chronic timidity, for assumed responsibility, no evidence here at least of the shamanic insight mentioned in the glossy terrain of coffee table books and press releases.  people talk to me about self-expression and freedom, as if my long hours are free time, as if i express my self.  As if I were expressing a self i know as mostly composed of anxiety about time management, lonely manners, sullen sociability  sex and my urge to drive distractions from full engagement up the side of the head.

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In pulling parts of longer manuscripts out of my various machines and piecing them together into one I find several entries similar to the following:

I haven’t posted anything in a long time, immobilized when it came to writing while riding trains and ferries, unfamiliar beds a norm, all good beds too with you. Cafes. campsites. I traveled but I was immobilized when words piled up in my head and I considered a narrative. The jumbled pile of words behind my brow. The shoulder high heave and wallow in a hoarder’s basement. Just more posing and blather to romanticize paintings or to explain their origins to a few readers on line.

The studio was always home, not just a workplace, so it was less lonely if there were memories of you about, reading on the sofas and yes, barefoot in a makeshift kitchen on a lazy Indian summer afternoon making eggs for breakfast, one of your belongings left behind to handle on the table. We’ve Been living out of vehicles and backpacks since our losses, and sleeping in temporary rooms so long now. People asking but where are you living and where do you hang your Kerouac first editions? Homelessness or even rootlessness has lost its cache in the not so great new depression, people losing their savings and housing on the news and the new austerity nurturing the economy if not the people and paintings selling like  rat shit for all the talk of the arts as the salvation of rural tourism and people living off wine and cheeses from cultural planning committee meeting.

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An old friend from a long gone city studio pulls himself off the road and rents a great big shop in the old hardware store in town across from the thrift and gift to open a design studio or a little gallery and he wants you along for the ride, so you’re like molly bloom with her yes yes yes to the high ceilings rooms where you can paint like a man standing up and he’s got his sculpture and woodworking shop and the lad says the loft upstairs is nineties new york in the sticks. Yes. You’ve done this thing before together in the boho days in another town, another city, inhabited high ceiling rooms and worked or lazed alongside and the familiar voice from the long gone days shares a history you learned not to talk about, it was of little interest your memory and now it fills in a the gaps in someone else’s from then, the narratives get written and readjusted.

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For a while there in your life you hesitated to even write a narrative for fear you were misinterpreting the few facts at hand or you feared you’d inevitably strike a moral stance, likely outmoded or even overly couched in current liberal terms. Or you didn’t dare write a narrative because it would mean something was going on, something had happened. How you got that way, afraid to tell your story for fear of getting it wrong and for fear of admitting your needs didn’t meet up to some local or rebel status quo. Like you didn’t have so much as a story to call your own. Same as it ever was. Big new rooms to do it all again. Yes yes. Yes.
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The studio is always the place of personal reckoning. For a painter anyway its where the image quest, which is not necessarily a vision quest takes place, or it moves into the rooms where the processing of life quickens, becomes private, if professional and where the tools are at hand, where the necessities of atmosphere and attitude are conducive. One reckons with one’s calling or ambition, one processes,one is strategic and then impulsive or inspired, the sudden and seemingly tangential timing being everything. One confronts one’s own inability and sloth many days, and stares under influences out the window. One has a little existential crisis every time one reaches for a pencil. Memories come up and one winces. One is alone in order to concentrate but it is lonely nevertheless, and you hold distracting people at bay and yet still try to charm.perhaps. For the artist wants to charm, if only eventually, after the shock and awe die down and his much derided vulgarity is seen to be the raw and sensitive masterpieces they are, unrecognized in Nazareth, nothing important coming out of Nazareth, and the fuss dies down and one is seen to be influential.

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Or you sell your little painting of a wolf baying at a beach ball moon just above his snoot and title it song of the wild spirit and you can pay the Internet bill down a notch anyway. So one doesn’t go nuts alone without social media when one has had enough of personal reckoning without streamed music, the sound track of one’s life alone unobserved while bumping up against ones own inability or flushed and eager with one’s hands’ own conviction and grace and the beauty of the model felt along its contours with the brush, so that sensual and emotional apparatus and the brush feel and act almost at once. At one. Even if it is an Inner abstraction, a construct not even clear inside you but worked out on the picture plain before you. Or you get that snout just right. Or you deconstruct the patriarchal narrative of some choir boy of the canon, say a domestic still life by Latour, whatever your fantasy. It can be a lot of fun, the studio, but most people can’t handle it. The inspiration doesn’t come or the elbow grease doesn’t seem worth the while. There are no benefits. The self reckons it isn’t cut out for the art world. Or one just plays in the paint like a child, thrilled with itself and unaware of critical faculty. You get those types coming to want to play at your house, sure everyone has an artist within, a child broken in churches and schools and molded to middle class circumstance just needing to run free range like a chicken . The studio is a place of reckoning for visitors too some days. You can take in the fall colors and following a map visit artist studios in your car, see them in their ever so natural rustic habitats, pick up a really cute decorating tip or something that somehow just moved you deeply. So you said screw the Internet, they can wait another month and you bought the Latour deconstruction or the coyote or whatever it is, propped up against an old enamel pitcher full of sunflowers by the complimentary snack table in a very tidy studio indeed down a dirt road just outside of town.
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