Oct 24, 2007


Here was another painting I saw recently. An oil, hanging in someone's pantry. You look at it quickly and you had the impression of an abstract and unfinished. But you wait a moment, let it soak in and you begin to see a man and woman sitting at a kitchen table. They're difficult to see, as though in the low light of late night. Something cooks on the stove. Empty wine bottles stand leaning on each other on a counter. The plates on the table are half finished.

The man appears older than the woman. Perhaps, they're married. He's very distinguished, with white hair. She is striking as well, with long black hair and an odd smile. Her face is partly hidden behind a computer screen. I would have said Asian, but you can't be sure. He looks over her shoulder. Clearly, they're comfortable with each other and yet there's something amiss. They don't quite go together. Something in the body language doesn't match.

Whatever is lacking, it's made up for by the fact they they've spent much time talking and consoling each other. Just now he looks very tired, the kind of fatigue that comes from being at odds with the world, with being abandoned by friends, by having to sit and listen to the wind all day, by having a constant stomach ache and waking up every morning with foreboding from strange dreams, feeling endlessly undone by the season, struck by the smallest details, disheveled by the mail, betrayed, fearful, hideously sentimental... But saved from complete despair by seeing his children.

Now, late at night, both subdued and enlightened by alcohol, he thinks he can see all the layers of the moment, that he can see himself clearly. And he's saying to himself — the painter's image is so vivid that we can nearly him say it — "this is the start of a very, very long winter."

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