I was talking to a friend that knows way more about art than I do, and he explained to me how paintings tell us things about the artist. It was fascinating. He showed me a painting with some peaches, and apparently the fruit was set out in a playful manner, indicating the artist’s humour. A certain painting of daffodils showed optimism and happiness, on account of its bright colours and upward strokes. Another piece—basically a tree in a field—showed the thoughtfulness and solitude that was part of the artist’s nature. I had no idea art could reveal so much.
I decided to analyse my own work.
I chose my latest still life, Head on a Platter (with Fruit). The focal point of the painting is the head on the platter. After examining the head for fifteen minutes (and remaining none the wiser as to whether the brush strokes suggested playfulness or serenity or fear), something disturbing struck me. The face in the painting has lots of purple, black and blue, as though covered in bruises, having been beaten mercilessly. What was that about? And then there was the hair: green, and seen at the side as far down as where the subject’s neck might have been, indicating the possibility of a “mullet” hairstyle. A green mullet. Only one person fits that description: early nineties cartoon eco-superhero, Captain Planet.
I had beaten and decapitated (on canvas) a man whose mission was to save the environment from pollution.
I had hoped (and even partly expected) my artwork to reveal I was a genius like those other painters whose works my friend had shown me. Instead, apparently, I want to destroy the planet. I’m a monster, a psychopath. I’m a James Bond villain, except without the charisma, intelligence or work ethic to carry out my diabolical schemes. It was not easy news to hear.
I called my niece, who is aggressively passionate about the environment; if I was the kind of person who might at any moment lose control and try to set off a nuclear disaster or kill all the whales, then I wanted her to hear it from me. She was unfazed. She said she didn’t think I would do that sort of thing, because all the world’s environmental problems—all its problems, in fact—are caused by “rich white guys.” I reminded her I am white, and a guy, and I am blessed with health and family and a house and a nice electric guitar. She said my riches were not the kind of rich she was talking about. She was talking about dollars, and tens of millions of them.
So, to destroy the planet—which I want to do; I cannot deny the evidence; I painted it myself—I need to be filthy rich. Yet I am not filthy rich. In fact, my financial endeavours have failed with remarkable consistency. Could it be that I have subconsciously sabotaged myself time and again when it comes to money, so that my horrific anti-nature ambitions might not be realised? Have I sacrificed financial success in order to save the planet? Am I Dr Jekyll committing suicide in order to spare the world my environmental Mr Hyde? In short, am I a hero? Yes.
20″ x 16″ Acrylic on canvas
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