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Tuesday 5 February 2013

The Man Who Wasn't Cézanne

It might have been Cézanne
who went into the field of corn
and setting up his easel,
looked around and saw
the mountains to the rear
and, argumentative in sky
and corn, the raucous crows.
It might have been Cézanne,
this painter on a mission --
and if it had been he
he would have known
where best to stay his eye. 
But this was not Cézanne. 
This painter was anonymous... 
famous but anonymous. He was
in need of time, reflection, 
thought. He needed to consider,
weigh up all the aspects. He 
had come to paint reality.
He'd paint it in whatever guise
it came to him. But where in
all this richness should
a painter focus first? To help
him in the awe-inspiring task
he'd brought an aid to mental
application: a chocolate cream egg.

He bites the egg.
It spurts. It stains
his shirt. But more:
it stains his pristine canvas.
He looks with horror at two stains --
a dark brown chocolate-coloured streak
beneath a yellow egg yolk smudge.

He takes a palette knife,
attacks the irritating marks,
but only spreads them, makes them
more offensive to his eyes.
He is about to try again
with greater fury when
a crow adds to the mess with
a grey-white and black, grey white
conglomerate obscenity... He stops,
the palette knife raised high
above his head in preparation for
the final strike... he's struck
by thought. And are these not,
he cries aloud, more real than
any marks I've ever seen purporting
to be art? Seconds after
voicing this epiphany he is engulfed
by midges, which he sets about
with vigour and his cap. Only later
does he realise that he has swatted some
on to the canvas, where they've
somehow morphed as crows among
the egg yolk-corn, above
the chocolate earth.

So that's reality! he says.
Reality impinges, bites, invades,
encroaches on your rights, becomes
a bloody nuisance now and then.
And if it don't do that, then man,
it just aint real enough for me!
Reality don't paint, it simply
spreads itself around. It's mucky,
fucky, unlucky for the guy
who gets too stuck with it. Reality
finds you and when it does,
then do all what you have to do with it --
and get out pretty quick! 

(Perhaps the world of art
would not have been the same
if anonymous had really been Cézanne!)


Sabio Lantz said...

Hey dude,
could you give a link to the painting and painter you are discussing?
Funny, the first stanzas I could have seen as a painters allegory to the false names used on the New Testament Bibles -- forgery made holy.

Dave King said...

Hi Sabio
'fraid to say, the story's fictitious. Paul Cezanne I refer to, but the main guy just never was. Sorry.

Sabio Lantz said...

Well we can be sure the writers of the Gospels weren't.
Oh well. The analogy feel apart.

Isn't it law in Britain that fictitious poems much come with a warning label -- or was that Sweden?

I know Europeans are much more careful about warning their consumers than Americans.


Sabio Lantz said...

-- weren't * fictitious*
-- *fell* apart

Brian Miller said...

more real than
any marks I've ever seen purporting
to be art...i really like his epiphany dave...and from a creme egg...i am not rather fond of them, but like what you did with them...smiles....ha...like that last italics bit as well on reality....

kaykuala said...

If it was Cezanne it would have been worth a fortune! But reality puts a damper to the expectations. Nicely Dave!


Anonymous said...

Very funny, Dave, on about a zillion levels. Perhaps not so much a landscape, as a land-escape, is what he was interested in. But there's an element of gritty abstraction that probably is catching this (sort of) but maybe without so much humor. k.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...


You may just have given birth to a new art movement...Perhaps an Easter exposition might be in order:)

A great foray which left me too wanting to gaze upon the finished piece...


Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Splendid powerful..the final digression on reality...sublime. I totally agree with it...no way to escape from the mess and its ineluctable spreading.
Great poem.

Cloudia said...

delightful conceit!

this is intelligent, thoughtful FUN!

Sending YOU Aloha
from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >

Mary said...

Enjoyed this, Dave. The story captured my attention and kept me reading. Ha, I wonder how many "anonymous" paintings out there really were done by someone famous.

lucychili said...

art is a good part serendipity despite all we try to do, perhaps writing too. whimsical.

haricot said...

Cezanne also must've struggled with reality...and was criticized by members of salon de beau art. Creativity has some risky aspect.

Ygraine said...

Now I see where I've been going wrong all these years!!
This would-be painter all too often just sits gazing dumbly at her blank canvas, waiting for that elusive inspiration to come.
And all she really needs to do is follow the prompts of fate and nature. Hehe:D

A gloriously funny story, Dave.
I so enjoyed reading this!

Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Fred,
I have come back to read your poem in its fictional light now. First, I must ell you, I new nothing of Cezanne before reading your poem. So now I read Wiki, and scanned around Google pics at paintings. 'Twas a fun tour, thanx. After that, I re-read your poem -- knowing both some background and that your poem is fiction. [BTW, you paint as a hobby too, don't you?]

His painting of Mount Sainte Victoire seemed to match the one in your poem a bit. I loved his stuff -- thanx for the intro.

Now, to your poem:

About the fake painter, you said, "He'd paint it in whatever guise it came to him." which, if I am understanding Cezanne, Cezanne would not do. For he said:
"When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art."

But your guy starts with an egg-squirt, not carrying, ready to make up anything --- indeed, not Cezanne.

I had to look up "midges" -- is that British for gnat? A pest for painters in the field indeed. And I wonder here, is Fred the painter?

"Reality is Midges" -- great analogy. I love the last philosophic stanza. The parenthetic helps me. You are indeed contrasting anonymous (?you) to Cezanne. You see the world as the last stanza.

Interestingly, Cezanne painted more skulls and was darker in his last days (as many folks are) -- for one, his diabetes was harsh. Our philosophies change colors depending on our life circumstances. This fact is often missed by folks who discuss philosophy as if it is removed from real lives.

Fantastic poem -- glad I came back.

Dave King said...

It's art, my friend, not a sales pitch!

No. I'm not keen on creme eggs either - not for EATING! Thanks for this.

That sounds like Cezaane was NOT into reality! Ah well, could be right, at that!

Land-escape, I love it. Very clever. And yes, I'm with you on the gritty abstraction, that's something I'd like to follow up some time.

Thanks for this, it's really appreciated. I almost included a new art movement -- probably would have called it something very unimaginative, like REAL ART . (Or has that been done?)

Thanks. Once again, two great minds....?

Love this comment. Thanks.

Good question... as is its opposite: how many famous paintings out there are actually the work of anonymous painters?

Yes, you are so right - as it happens I have said the same thing in my post for today -- an example of the web's synchronicity, think you?

This is undoubtedly so. Thanks for the thought.

Absolutely, no need to go insearch of it, let it find you -- whatever it
might be!

Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Dave,
Oooops, I said "Fred" in my comment -- meant "Dave. My bad.

After my long, thought out comment you tersely and dismissingly said,
"Sabio. It's art, my friend, not a sales pitch!"

I'm not sure what you are implying and won't guess. I do enough guessing on folks poems.