We are mice in a maze, chasing lies spouted by corporate and political overlords. The closer we get to breaking free, the clearer we see the dead end ahead. But instead of crying out against the machine, we just hit the reward button and sedate ourselves with pellets of entertainment, illusions of meaning. We trade our souls for the latest smartphone, and while we bow our heads to the glowing god in our hands, we fail to notice our imminent slaughter. And so the machine absorbs us and grows fatter, more powerful. And we become mindless pulp, fuel for the endless cycle.
That was how I explained the original version of this painting to a friend of mine, Rick. After leaning in and squinting at it for a minute, this was his response:
“… Uh… yeah, okay… … … There’s a lot of yellow.”
You know that farting sort of noise a balloon makes when you blow it up and then let it go, and it flies all around the room and then flops empty on the floor? That’s how I felt. I tried explaining the piece further, but Rick just scratched his head. “It’s just sorta… I dunno,” he said. “Why don’t you paint a tree on it or something?”
He saw my disappointment (I threw my sandwich on the floor and crossed my arms, huffing loudly).
“I don’t understand all the rectangles, that’s all,” he said. “Maybe if you painted a person, I would get it.”
“Who would I paint?” I said.
Rick shrugged. He looked out the window to where a young child was playing in the park across the street. “Kids are cute. What about painting a kid?”
I looked out the window. “Oh yeah, sure. I’ll just go ask a three-year-old if he wants to come to my house so I can paint a picture of him. Great idea, Rick, but no, thank you, I do not want everyone to think I’m a paedophile.”
“Not that kid,” said Rick. “I meant your kid.”
“My kid,” I said. “Of course!”
I immediately got in the car and drove to my son’s kindergarten; I had forgotten he was there and that I was supposed to pick him up two hours earlier.
The amended artwork is not the abstract masterpiece I had intended when I began, but at least the painting doesn’t depress me anymore.
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