Wednesday 22 July 2009

Painting a Thin Sad Man's Face

Last night I started to put together Steve's pictures. I have photos and painted attempts from winter 2007; I wrote on some of the wood then because images were too difficult to do. Reading those last night made me realise how important it was to try and get some of the anguish out of my body and on to paper, or wood. I work on wood. Mostly. So I have chunks of prepared wood, primed and white and ready, with very desparate messages on them. On one of the images I painted of Steve in his chair a day or so before he died, has the most heart wrenching scrawl all over the background.

I believed quite happily in God till the day Steve died. At some point during the morning when I sat with his body, I came to the conclusion that I had willingly and ignorantly colluded with this God nonsense. I didn't think Thy Will Be Done. I thought Bugger That. I found this sentence on one of the blocks of wood

"I don't have to obey you I can't hear you speaking I can't listen because you don't say anything"

and I think that was in response to God Knows Best from some well meaning person. I wanted to hit them with the piece of wood with the message on it.

I feel differently now. It will be two years exactly when I put on this exhibition, and I am ready to tie up all the images and thoughts of those days in 2007 with the the thoughts and feelings of today, in 2009.

So I am painting a thin sad man now. He was 6'2" and fairly overweight eight weeks before this picture. There are so many sinews in a thin neck and shoulders. Steve's skin is yellow and his big round eyes are yellow and thoughtful. His eyes got bigger and bigger as he lost his weight. It is so beautiful, this thinness. It is awesome and remote, it is a body slowly disappearing. I remember my brother getting Steve a child's shirt to wear, all his shirts were like a big man's shirt on a thin wire coat hanger. I am painting this image on a small square of wood, and will paint another image of the same face at a different stage on another piece of wood to made a diptych.

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