Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nightmare Fuel, Day the 21st: The Painting

Day the 21st. I'm still one behind my usual one-behind schedule, but will either catch up or fall farther behind with a couple days of upcoming travel.

This one, I suppose, is another fable. It's certainly a big step back towards reality after yesterday's experiment with modernism. The image didn't quite speak to me, so I used the version in my head instead. That one worked better, at least for my taste.

"The Painting"
by L Czhorat Suskin

"You want to buy that one?"

"Yeah. I kinda like it. He looks distinguished. And out of place. I feel that way sometimes."

The painting in question was of a man of indeterminate age standing stiffly at a beach. He did in fact look distinguished with his graying hair, his conservatively cut suit, his stiff posture. Also more than a bit out of place, alone in the bright sunshine, slightly backlit by late morning sun on bright blue waves.

It wasn't, truth be told, all that much of a gallery. Paintings of various size from various artists hung haphazardly on the rough wooden walls of the old grange hall. Seascapes next to still-lives and portraits and oversized primitives of barnyard animals. And seascapes, and seascapes. It was as if some secret meetings were held in smoke-filled rooms somewhere on the island in which all of the local painters were told to give the tourists what they want. Or if most of the artists just figured that most of their clientelle was there on vacation, and nobody goes to vacation on an island to buy a painting of a city.

They were on vacation, the couple squabbling over the artistic merits of the painting. "At the Seashore", oil on canvass. I suppose oil and water do mix, in some ways and in some times.

"There are so many others here that are more interesting. That have more color."

She started to wander away, he tarried a moment longer. "I like it. I've always liked the beach. An... not fitting in."

He paused. "I just got my bonus. We can afford it."

"You want to spend that much? And bring that home? You serious?"

They haggled with eachother before haggling with the gallerist. They'd take it home on the condition that it hang not in the living room but the smaller space that they called his home office but he secretly thought of as his study. That the next piece of artwork they bought had some damn color in it.

The painting never felt quite right in the study. For one thing, the man couldn't figure out how to illuminate it. With no lights it was too dark, but whatever he did threw a glare across the image, washing out the figure. Still, from a certain angle he could see what he'd seen those months before in the gallery: the conservatively cut suit, the severe features, the barest hint of a smile. Then came a promotion and children and less time alone to contemplate.
Sam Howzit on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license.

It was years later, on the eve of their move, that they discussed the painting again. The man flipped off the little spotlight he'd installed above it, but the glare remained, as if etched into the canvass. "I guess I ruined it. Too bad. I'd always kinda liked it." he looked over at her. "Leave it behind?"

"Hmmm.. now I like it. The change in the light makes him look ... different. He's fading , but you can still see him from the right angle. It's more interesting."

In the new house, they'd put it in the living room. The walls of his new home office would remain bare.

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