20. Poppies, Pomegranates And Pompous People
"But a pomegranate's leaves don't look like that!" screeched a pretentious little lady whilst she viewed one of my expressionistic still-life paintings. "Those aren't pomegranates in the painting," I responded. "Then what the dickens are they?" she retorted. Generally I am polite and tactful when my paintings are under attack but on that occasion I felt the hairs on the back of my neck behaving like a bunch of frogs on a very hot stone. "Lady, I said, "I don't give a hoot what those fruit are, just call them Amazonian Salmagundi melons if it will make you feel any better, Let the fruit be whatever they want to be… does it really matter at the end of the day? Just enjoy the painting, let it wash over you like music and enjoy it." This was beyond her limits of imagination and she left in a bit of a huff. Some time later another unimaginative soul refused to buy one of my paintings as I was unable to specifically name the flowers depicted in it. I told the would-be purchaser as diplomatically as I could that I was a painter, not an illustrator of flowers for a fauna and flora museum shelf book. Had I 'named' the flowers say, 'Torremolinos Tulips from the island of Cajumangura' she probably would have purchased the artwork without a second thought. The point I am making Sade is that in my work form and accuracy are secondary to colour and energy. To me it's not so much the painting of the subject that is dominant. What counts is my response to the subject that I am depicting. It's amazing that most of my favourite paintings were created almost with a sense of serendipity when I wasn't overly concerned about the result. Things happen fortuitously and we don't quite know how. I'm not trying to lay down rules here, it's just my way. Kandinsky tells us that "There are no musts in art, because art is free". I respect that just as I respect the right of someone to criticize my work. Often I remind myself that somewhere there is a dear old lady who gets immeasurable pleasure from the most ghastly painting you've ever seen in your life, hanging over her fireplace.
When someone remarked sarcastically to Matisse that the woman depicted in one of his paintings did not look like a woman the artist responded by saying, "I don't paint women, I paint pictures."
"Art is the desire of a man to express himself ... to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in."