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(excerpts from 1977-2023)

May 29, 2023

 

I made the first sketches for the "Flags" paintings during my studies in the early 1980s, and the first paintings a few years later. I analysed the brightness of white, its graying and blackening. I saw the absurdities of our local drunken Polish common in the overwhelming grey – the colour of a paving slab. I tormented myself over Wittgenstein's theses, trying the impossible - translating them into the language of painting. I laughed at myself, at the absurdities around me; irony was a weapon and a curtain behind which one could survive, and I admired those great and brave ones. I looked into various corners of reality, and I processed it into images. Some appreciated it, others shrugged.

 

Many years later, when Independence Day began to turn into street brawls, I was surprised. I asked how patriotism should be manifested by destroying bus stops? I did not understand. Until, from behind the smoke of flares and offensive banners, appeared something more impossible than painting a philosophy - our own Polish fascist neo-Bolshevism.

 

The Independence March in the capital was announced as a joyful celebration of all Poles, and after weeks of negotiations between the government and the nationalists, the organizers of the march, I saw sad people in black, carrying flags as if they were weighing them down – the Gov people. Followed by armed troops, separating the rulers from the sovereign in whose name they supposedly exercised power. And at the head of the crowd marched “true patriots”, as they call themselves - aggressive racists, shouting their hatred. White Power on banners, flares fired, insults, clenched fists. The only thing missing was the Ku Klux Klan. I painted "100 Flags". Later, I added "100 flags revisited", I added dirty gobs of "defenders of Europe", and at the end I added Budyonovka, so that no one would have any doubts.

 

It all started with a banner: it was 2003, maybe 2004, I was sitting on a bench near University reading a book about painting that I had recently received, during the Venice Biennale, from Masza Potocka; about the energy of the image, about the language of painting, about levels of meaning, about thinking penetrating through the leaks of the linguistic structure. I looked up; the billboard in front of me, poor. A mess of composition and colours - it was supposed to advertise something, not clear what. A van pulled up and guys with ladders and buckets of glue started tearing off the previous one and covering it with another one. For a moment it looked like Mimmo Rotella, but out of the chaos an orderly image began to emerge, with a nice composition and intense colours. A stylized eagle, two (or maybe one, I don't remember) guys in slightly pompous poses and a text whose meaning boiled down to "they stole it and we will fix it". This description of the world made me wonder; Well, there are some "they", we don't know who, but they stole, so they are guilty. We are dealing here with a judgment of guilt without evidence, and it is not known for what and against whom. On the other hand, there are some "we" - presumably those on the poster, who have some competence to fix something. What to fix? What competences? It is unknown. The first association is the song "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret by Bob Fosse and popular communist slogan of the past "nation with party, party with nation", in similar colours.

 

And today it ended in a constitutional coup called “Lex Tusk”.


 

December 10, 2021

 

At the recent exhibition "This is not a flag" combined with my installation "They", I was asked to explain the meaning of two paintings, one titled “What we didn't know about POTUS just yesterday”, the second one “And what we know about ourselves today." Some say our so-called president is a moron, some say half-wit. For sure, he breaks constitution. And his supporters wear masks I presented on this painting. 

What about American one? From my point of view it's a pity that such a fella is supposed to be a leader of the Free World. Some say he is a crook, some say psychopath. For sure, he is a sociopath, and his main “supporter” attacked Capitol half naked wearing fur and buffalo horns. Worth depiction.

 

After this exhibition, I heard accusations: you cannot call current Polish TV a Goebbels’ propaganda because Goebbels was a war criminal, today's local nationalists are not fascists, and the current government is not Bolsheviks.

 

I explained at the meeting with journalists and I repeat: I use the term "Goebbels’ propaganda" as an adjective. The features of Goebbels' propaganda were lies, manipulation, creation of substitute topics, falsification of reality and the use of modern (at that time) techniques, including film. This is exactly what the party propaganda offers in TVP since Mr. Kurski appeared. They both, Goebbels and Kurski have a certain common feature - the belief in the infallibility of their Leader (German: Führer). As for being a criminal, Mr. Josef Goebbels, as the Reich Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, visited Warsaw in 1934 and (wearing a tailcoat, anyhow) was received by Marshal Pilsudski and Foreign Minister Beck. Only later he became a war criminal. In the same year 1934, Leni Riefenstahl made "Triumph of the Will", considered a masterpiece of a documentary (or rather propaganda) film and, seems to be disremembered, was awarded before the war at the Venice Biennale and the Gold Medal and the Grand Prize of France at the Paris World Exhibition. Of course, I would not dare to compare Mr. Kurski to Leni Riefenstahl, it would be offensive to her - after all, she was a great artist, and Mr. Kurski is only an operator of a flail to hit the viewer on the head.

 

The face of today's nationalists is a certain primitive, anti-Semite and brutal street fighter who leads the Independence Marches. I do not agree with the opinions of foreign journalists who claim that 60,000 neofascists are marching in Warsaw, because I do not believe that all participants have such views. This does not change the fact that fascist slogans are proclaimed in the front ranks, women are beaten during the marches, people with different views are attacked, especially those flying the rainbow flag, which is burned along with the European flag, and flares and torches are fired, turning them into hate marches. close to the atmosphere of the 1930s in Germany.

 

I call them Bolsheviks and this is indeed an oversimplification. Of course, Kaczynski is not Lenin, Ziobro is not Dzerzhinsky. What I mean is a mentality, perhaps closer to Gomulka than to the "founding fathers" of communism, but having common features: "we" are always right, "they" are traitors and denialists, "whoever is not with us is against us." A similar national-patriotic set in propaganda. What is the qualitative difference between a "spitty dwarf of reaction" and "second-class people"? This Bolshevik, Gomulka-type mentality manifests itself in contempt for otherness, any otherness. And this mentality is the Holy Grail and the key to the gates of paradise, i.e. the ENEMY: the list of Stalinist enemies is very long, the oldest ones remember Gomulka's enemies, but they come back as lumpen-elites, Polish-language media, German-Russian condominiums, etc. - the list is also long.

By the way, communists and fascists had some common features, e.g. they had similar taste: a combination of a country fair, a bourgeois living room and imperial splendour - all pompous, kitschy and hypocritical. They took out the elements that suited them - with a swastika or a hammer and sickle. This is how stone chariots harnessed by horses were created, driven by half-naked peasant women to the glory of the frontline tankers. This was what the culture of the New World was supposed to look like. Do I mean our Great Leader’s movements to the rhythm of disco-polo? No. I mean his thoughts on bacteria and germs spread by emigrants, because it reminded me of Mein Kampf.

Excerpts from 2005-2020

The iconography of the image
(2017/2018)


I found some old Reagan sketches. I told my students where it came from: in the 1960s, Reagan was the mayor of California, Joan Baez, when singing "We shall overcome", moved away from the roots of the civil rights movement and the song became the anthem of the Summer of Love. As did several other songs and artists who rose to fame after Monterey Pop in 1967; Janis Joplin or Jimmy Hendrix, to mention the greatest. But it was his American National Anthem solo at Woodstock that became iconic. You can hear bombs dropped on Vietnam and disagreement with everything represented by the establishment, which, apart from the hypocritical and disgraced President Johnson, was personified by the mayor of California, former actor Ronald Reagan. In addition, he sent the National Guard to occupy Berkeley and ordered the destruction of a park on university grounds occupied by hippies. Ten years later, he became president, especially popular in Poland because he kicked the Soviets in their own way - deceiving them. He actually spent billions on armaments, lowered the price of oil with the Saudis, squeezed the Russians economically, they were still barely hanging on, but Star Wars, lasers in space were nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik, which I remember because I was in London, it was interesting: Reagan was used to party hardliners, typical Soviet Bolsheviks who counted armored positions and would love to crush Europe with tanks. At the end of his life, Brezhnev was a mummy, he could barely walk and was better suited for a mausoleum. After him came other old KGB men Andropov and Chernenko, who died quickly, and after them Gorbachev, quite young, intelligent, with a pretty wife. And Reagan probably liked him, and what's more, in Reykjavik, Gorbachev apparently put quite reasonable disarmament proposals on the table. But Reagan pushed him further and didn't let up. He's an interesting character, it was an interesting time, and important to me. And I pulled out these sketches because he is an even more interesting figure when looking at the world today. Contrary to appearances, I am not interested in politics. I am interested in people, ideas and value systems. Those people had cojones and ideas worth considering, I don't see any today. There is a new cover of "Private Eye" with the title "Historic Deal" and a photo: barely recognizable Theresa May and JeanClaude Juncker shaking hands, and the inscription "Is that clear enough for everyone?" They are barely recognizable because the photo is completely blurred and hazy. The picture of the world is also murky. Even my English friends can't really explain to me what's going on with Brexit; every politician has some interest, a very little interest, and everyone will pay for it. Everyone sees President Trump as he is, and there is more and more evidence that Putin had a hand in his election. I saw Reagan and Gorbachev on TV in Reykjavik, I saw Trump and Putin in Helsinki. Discredit. Such a comparison is offensive to Reagan, but Trump has a lot of support in America. I was in Paris recently, and I couldn't figure out what was going on. Things became not clear. Should I ask for ideas? Anti-Polish Catholic-anti-Christian and Bolshevik-right-wing patriotism also has the support of the sovereign. I was proud of Poland, of our successes, until I heard that the country was in ruins, treacherous murders, second class and it was time to get up from our knees. I carried my three-year-old son on my shoulders to see the European flag being hoisted; after many years, Poland returned to Europe. The smart guys will soon take us out and ruin everything. What is the idea behind this? Someone tell me, because I haven't heard anything except insults. I'm very far away from conspiracy theories, but in this hazy obscurity, only Putin may have an interest. And I would like to paint this confusion. The New Four Seasons, an image of the flowing world, a combination of Poussin's colour, his Christian-pagan iconography and meanings, and the magic of ukiyo-e, images of the world passing by. Has President Trump heard of Poussin? Certainly not, but I know what he would associate it with.

There is already a Ministry of Truth in Poland, I wonder if my thought crimes will take me to court.

“Why would a man from such a distinguished family and with such a fine education choose to live as you do?"

“Why?”

 

"Because of the Sermon on the Mount, sir." (Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird")

Hokusai created a series of 36 views of Mount Fuji; shall I replace Poussin's Les Quatre Saisons with eight views of the Mount of Beatitudes? There is a problem; Fuji is a huge, majestic peak, just like the entire Mont Sainte-Victoire massif, and this "mountain" is basically a hill, overgrown, with an ugly church with pseudo-Moorish arcades. I won't go to the Louvre to see Poussin again, but I will read. The best thing about him was written by Sir Anthony Blunt, a Soviet spy who passed on to the NKVD, among others, the most important information on Polish matters. He helped Stalin to screw Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta.

This is how I assemble images from pieces of the world

Excerpts from conversations from 2016-2017

The question of the relationship between art and politics is a topic for dissertations; from my humble position as a painter, that is someone who recognizes that he has the right to observe, I can say that art does not deal with politics, because art is not a mirror that reflects reality, but is its critic. The freedom of art lies in the capacity for certain indifference. Art has the right to "deal” with itself, and if it focuses on the present, it is not limited by political correctness, convention, or the imposed system of values. That is why power, especially power limited intellectually is afraid of the art and oppresses it. Art appears to the mediocrity in power as an ulcer on the ass of its own organism, which is, in the opinion of this power, healthy. Image iconography

Anyway, "to deal with" requires quotation marks, because art is a process in time, it means seeing the world and its changes, reflection and searching for forms of communication, not "dealing with". Politics appears in art, or rather presses, as mercy pushed its way through the gaps to Woland, who wanted to plug these gaps with rags. Politics squeezes in, pretending to be something else, some good, some truth, a revelation, and most often it is a pile of shit in elegant disguise. In Jan Klata's Stary Theatre in Krakow, we deal with great art, and the presence of politics is in a sense accidental, although his art is permeated with Polishness - but not politics. It is not Klata that feeds on the disgustingness of power, it is not theatre that needs hatred and the cesspool pouring out of the so-called public television, but it is the cesspool that pours into the theatre through non-clogged cracks, and there are no rags that would help. The fact that there is a joke from the stage, an allusion that there is a reference to the present, testifies to the vitality of the theatre and not to some necessity - the theatre will manage without it. The audience's reactions, laughter, and applause say more about the poor down-to-earthness of this power than about the size of the theatre. These actors and this director have no problem, because they create a great play, these viewers, especially those from Krakow, have no problem either because they perceive this play, feel its greatness, and need it. It is a morally stunted power that has a problem because there is something beyond its control. Our power of little people hates this theatre as much as Gomułka hated Dejmek, writers and students. Jazz, bicyclers and intelligence caused fear and disgust in those in power, just like modern semi-intellectuals are tormented by cyclists, lesbians and vegetarians.

What do vegetarians, cyclists and lesbians have in common? Good question. Power feels better the more it controls. Any group, however independent, which does not want to stare for hours at a propaganda shows at TV, that has values other than the right one, is a potential threat. On Sundays, one should listen to the sermon of the priest who calls things; he will point out the evil of the opposition, because it is total, and will remind you of the good of the Anointed's power. At the rallies, they shout Jarosław Save Poland, and he smiles and modestly bows his forehead. It seems to me that there is only one Saviour in Christianity, but this is not about Christianity. That is why I say "listen to the sermon" and not "attend the Holy Mass" because the church that serves power denies its essence. It is anti-ecumenical in the sense that it refuses to dialogue. Coming back to cyclists, it is precisely the fear of dialogue and of the "other" that leads to exclusion. This authority, itself becoming a sect, accepts only followers, no matter what their provenance, as long as they are faithful and devoted. They can be fascists, football fans, anti-Semites, former regime security service officers or public prosecutors, irrelevant. The rest get the fuck out. And those excluded must be named because then we have the guilty ones right away. What are guilty of? Never mind; to blame for everything. And so we have Tusk in Wehrmacht with his wolfish eyes, Polish-language media, Jews and Germans, presumably thieves judges, lesbians, cyclists, and vegetarians. And wormed emigrants - terrorists. If women take to the streets, they are called former regime security service widows, and in general, all the others are treacherous murderers.

Of course, the artists is a separate group. On the one hand, art is elitist in the sense that a rather small group cares about it. A thousand people will come to the important exhibition of the genius painter; no television will mention it, except for programs watched by the same thousand people at 3 in the morning. A group of music lovers who can still afford it will come to the concert of the outstanding soloist, and a crowd to show up; new dresses and new lovers. New limousines. On the other hand, artists are perceived as honest as the art itself, so they are somehow credible. That is why the authorities are trying to be able to show off an artist. This was understood by Stalin, which did not prevent him from elevating the artists to a pedestal and then executing them. Gomulka understood it in his own imperfect way; at first he bound artists with a binding canon, beyond which it was impossible to exist, then he tried to replace art, which his narrow mind could not understand anyway, with flair. His successors, more savvy, took up a game that Glowacki and Wajda said a lot about - games with censorship: we, the authorities, will allow you, the artists, to act and live, and you will not be too open against us, for that we will brag about you. Hence the allusiveness that is hardly readable for the West.

This authority of today is more primitive, sectarian. It insults and mocks everyone who blindly does not profess its Smolensk faith. It makes a funny but also tragic attempt to replace real authorities with its own. Funny, because the bench is short and probably not of the first quality. Or rather not the first freshness, since we remember Bulgakov. Tragic, because disgusting, Bolshevik way of thinking, with unpredictable results. And it destroys art, just like everything that stands in its way. It is not able to close theatres, but it replaces directors with its own. It cannot close the museums; it connects them to make them subject to faithful believers. Of course, public television went to the first fire; they sent a bullterrier on the omnipotent boss with a clear mission. During martial law, they sent the army to television, and journalists who decided to stay and serve faithfully appeared in uniforms. It was fairer, everyone saw what they got. Now they pretend that they are supposed to be the same as journalists, but they should appear with a party sticker on their foreheads. And with a feather in the ass.

About television? What can be said so that it is not banal? Although I have never had a TV set, I know that it has a red button that can be used to turn it off. Out of motherly concern, my mother once brought me a TV set, but it ended up in the basement and she picked it up after some time. But I sometimes watch. Once my parents left, I lived next door in the studio, it smelled of paint, and I went to sleep with them in the civilization of hot water and heating. I sat in front of the TV and watched from evening until morning. Info, some chaff, phenomenal programs about animals, game shows, unbelievable series about nothing, some American movie with explosions. There was even a pretty nice and unbelievably beautiful romance about love. You can sit there and shoot forever, and what if something happens. Well, at 3 a.m., when a billion people went to bed, I found Pierre Boulez and Alain Jouffroy discussing the avantgarde on French television, priceless. Has anyone else in Europe watched this?

The primitivism pisses off. Once I was disappointed with "The Four Seasons" by Jasper Johns, I can be irritated by poor theatre or the loss of two hours on a movie that I will forget before I leave the cinema. A lot of things piss off: ignorance, mental laziness. On the other side there is delight, admiration for someone who can do something great. Who wants, who can devote him/or herself. And pride, a great feeling. I was so proud that we, Poles, were able to accomplish the impossible. As a young angry student, I said that I would have my head cut off slowly with a blunt saw, so that communism would collapse. Nobody cut anything off me and I witnessed this fall. And the rebirth. Walesa, John Paul II, Reagan, a group of wise intellectuals of the Mazowiecki and Geremek class and those really brave like Michnik, Frasyniuk or Kuron and millions of ordinary Poles have accomplished the impossible. We have become an example for the world. And then a quarter of a century of work; those who knew xenophobic, provincial Poland, with this Enlightenment gap, the non-parallelism of Polish culture and great cultures of the West, suddenly saw and delighted with our maturity. Poland achieved real success, not romantic dreams of greatness. I have nothing against Romanticism, but there are roughly 200 years of utopia and antiutopia, ideological and systemic ferment, revolutions, wars and totalitarianisms, and the entire catalogue of the twentieth-century madness, headed by Auschwitz at the forefront, from messianism and not always rational ecstasy. And we, not as great as we would like to see ourselves, have suddenly become an essential element of the modern world. It was something to be proud of.

But a frustrated man plagued by complexes emerged from somewhere in the nooks and crannies of power, and he called in from the non-existence of other mean people who did not hesitate to whistle at the funeral of Bronislaw Geremek or to boo Professor Bartoszewski at the graves of the insurgents of 1944 Warsaw Appraisal on August 1. Even under the communist regime, this day and this place were sacred. And it started spitting on the noble and decent, I heard that they were all stealing, that thieves, the country in ruins, that security service, Jews, Polish-language press, etc. As Walesa said - maybe a complicated character, but a man worthy of respect, especially as a symbol appreciated all over the world - when a small spits on a big one, he thinks that he will grow. This is the clou, the essence of this power: spit on, disgust real authorities and replace with yourself. Power is an aggressive environment that uses brutal methods, but within limits. I don't expect crystal purity from any authority, but they've gone too far. They exceeded the limits of not only decency - such a concept does not exist in them. They have crossed the borders of their crimes - they destroy this country, extract the worst element from the darkest corners and tolerate it, and even glorify it. People like Mazowiecki, Geremek or Bartoszewski introduced Poland to Europe, to NATO, they moved us from backwater to salons, supported by the symbolic figure of Walesa. Today, these people have been mocked, and mediocrities are stuffed onto the textbook pages, usurping the right to a pedestal, burial in royal tombs. Quasi-military takeover of the centre of Warsaw to squeeze in kitsch monuments, seizure of the courts, breaking the law and the constitution, mockery of the law and people under the guise of alleged granting by the sovereign, gibberish and superstition of the Smolensk sect and finally, soon quite possible electoral fraud, and finally leading us out of European Union

I mentioned Mazowiecki, Geremek, Bartoszewski because there is a dramatic lack of such people today. They did so much for all of us, for this country, because they understood "where we come from, where we are going", ok - where should we go and who we are. They had the intellectual potential to shift half the world to our advantage, because they gained respect and their clear and honest visions were accepted. One may say just games. But this is how you can build a positive, not by spitting and insulting everyone around you. Mazowiecki gave a lecture at the University of Leuven on the relationship between ethics and politics, that there is no great politics without moral support. What kind of moral support does a guy have who becoming president takes an oath on the constitution and breaks it? So help me God! This eluded Bierut when he took the oath, because he did not receive instructions from Moscow in time. Bronisław Geremek received over twenty honorary doctorates from the most prestigious universities around the world, Mazowiecki and Bartoszewski alike. From the Sorbonne in Paris to Columbia University in New York and the Jagiellonian University. Do you see a woman Szydło there, or such bosses of the Parliament intellect as Kuchcinski? Ziobro and Maciarewicz? Maybe the Nobel Prize?

Optimism? Of course. I believe people will open their eyes. Young people reading the constitution, demonstrations in defence of the courts, the increasingly visible hypocrisy of the authorities. Not only painters get pissed off. People will get pissed and say: Get the fuck out!

What do artists do?

(2006)

I flew many hours by plane and read various newspapers. An article titled "What Do Artists Do?" was boring, stereotypical and I didn't finish it.

A few years ago I saw Paul Klee's painting "Twittering Machine" in New York. The Polish title "Machine for Twittering" seems to be nicer because it reflects the spirit of this painting in a better way. I think so.

Of course, I heard about it many years ago, I saw reproductions, but only when I saw it I realized that, unlike, say, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon it is not the King Kong of modern times, but a small picture on paper in the technique of mixing everything with everything. I remember it well because it once gave me the idea to paint Machine for Thinking. In my mind at that time, when I was a student, it was to be a picture with gears, cogs and things like that, necessarily powered by pedals. And all this was supposed to move the heads, brains, jaws, preferably of Lenins and people like that. I didn't paint a picture, the world has changed, today's Machine for Thinking would no longer be pedal-powered, but digital, there are no more Lenins, today's rulers do not need any machine, because no one expects them to think.

PS
(2019)

I just dug out this text and I must admit that I was pleased that some of my comments from years ago were up to date. Comments on art, of course.

Excerpts from 1995-2004

I wrote something else

I remember once writing that it was impossible to write down Caravaggio's painting with mathematical equations. By the time. I read that there was a malfunction in the largest machine in the world, the Large Hadron Collider. An idea came to my mind which I described in the form of a short story. Bored with a short break from work, IT specialists who work on the huge supercomputers at CERN near Geneva meet a painter over a beer, who persuades them to create software that, based on digitally saved all outstanding works of art from the past and present, will create with the help of temporarily unusable supercomputers the most outstanding painting of the future. And they sit down to work; I neatly omitted the details of Caravaggio's chiaroscuro conversion into a programming language. And this is how new paintings are created that fill today's galleries.

Amen.

Dreams from the youth

I thought once in London that I would do what Rauschenberg did with a DeKooning drawing. And I have it! Ryszard Grzyb brought his small painting to the studio and I painted it over.

Malevich returns, that is, with a Brooklyn accent

I got an invitation to participate in the exhibition "Malevich in Poland", curated by Zbigniew Warpechowski. I have two works in my studio; it is difficult to call them paintings - I recently made "The Ascension of Kazimierz Malevich" and "The Crucifixion of Kazimierz Malevich" on plastic pieces of folders for drawings. But I have read thoroughly the text by Warpechowski, which deals with, among others, the question of the world-wide ignorance of Malevich's Polish roots. Practicing art, painting pictures, looking for boundaries or limits in art, and that's what I do, is a bit crazy in today's world, and this is also the idea that came to my mind to smuggle something about Malevich in a popular and easily digestible form for the American so-called recipient. God only knows who such a recipient is, but most probably does not care about exhibitions of Polish painters. I decided that if it was to swallow something apart from Sunday Night Football or hamburgers, it would be a film or book about CIA agents and terrorism in the formula of popular political fiction, which would tell about what it needs to be about: contemporary politics, the realities of the secret services, and decorated with Bond-style gadgets will smuggle a story about contemporary art, about the role of Kazimierz Malevich in creating the avant-garde, about his Polish roots.

I actually thought of something about sex, but I wouldn't compete with the night tv channels.

My first attempts went to Michael Kandel, an outstanding interpreter of Stanisław Lem. Kandel referred me to Patrick LoBrutto, a professor of literature in New York, editor of such writers as Stephen King and Isaac Asimov. He was interested in my project, the more so because I accidentally placed the plot near his place (as he wrote back to me while reading my text, he looked out the window to see if any of the thugs were creeping in front of his house) and in New York, which he knows and loves. More precisely, at the beginning a problem arose, because I sent him a few pages in Polish after Kandel's recommendation, and LoBrutto wrote back that if it interested Kandel, it was probably interesting, but he doesn't know Polish, so he asks me to send it to him in English. So I sat on my butt for six months and wrote in English. And then we met in New York and worked together. His style of work, unlike Polish editors, is to relentlessly translate to writers what they screwed up and not to correct anything. As he told me, his ground rule is not to add a word. After few years of working together, I finally got him to write one single sentence: in the Alsace scene, I gave one guy a Brooklyn accent just to make it clear that he was a New York thug. He might as well have a New Jersey accent or any other. Patrick kept explaining to me that the sentence I wrote, or rather the curse, was not "Brooklyn" at all, finally admitted that he was born and went to school in Brooklyn. I studied what I could about the Brooklyn accent, how the consonant contraction, where and when it faded, even walked around Brooklyn and eavesdropped on, nothing. I have written this frown sentence many times and Patrick always grimaced. In the end, I blackmailed him that I would never finish the book until I wrote it myself.

This sentence in the Brooklyn accent is "Fuck, les ged outa heah".

* * *

I sent the paintings on plastic folders to the exhibition, I didn't see it myself, but I read about it.

Like it or not, the ancient idea of decomposing the Black Square into prime factors drilled into my head, I found my notes, and there I wrote down something years ago: what is the Black Square after experiencing the division of art into "after Duchamp" and "after Picasso". It can be said that the urinal closed the study of the boundaries of art (why study the already researched?), and Picasso closed the discussion of "representation ". But if this is true, the question arises, what the Black Square opened? These are the issues, or rather questions for the stout minds of pearl divers, the task for me is how to paint a picture that "opened" the Black Square. In other words, how to deconstruct it, using the concept of Jacques Derrida. If "There is nothing but the text" there is nothing but the image. Can the Black Square be painted today? How to do it? And why do I blend Susan Sontag's thinking about art theory with Derrida and about to add Wittgenstein? Because my Black Square will be as "mimetic" and as "realistic" as "decorative" was Malevich’s work. Today's Black Square will be, on the one hand, an image of a painting, and on the other, an attempt at interpretation. It should omit, abandon, as Sontag says (can be scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory), the problem set by the Platonic mimetic theory, it should be as "realistic" as abstract art is not decorative and as "out of time" "As far as the Black Square was the beginning and the end, it was a point of infinite value.

The Lady came to my atelier. Mistake. I haven't let anyone in for years, with a few exceptions. And I do not sell "from the studio". With only one exception of a befriended Swiss collector. As it happens with rules, Beata persuaded me, because she's a friend, because this, because that. So she came, Deconstructing Black Square hanging on the wall, plus few new paintings I took out. She took pictures with her golden phone and said that she would consult an interior designer because they were changing the interior of the living room. I would not be able to tell her that I painted this simple, almost monochromatic painting for eight years, and in fact much more; twenty years of talks with professor Zagrodzki about art and Malevich, a few years of studies, museums in the States and Europe, breaking through Derrida, Wittgenstein, my own and silent quarrels with Adorno; Gadamer and Herbert Marcuse and some others and so on. Well, I wouldn't explain it to her. Not because I am exalting myself. She has not heard of Malevich.

I once painted a few paintings with patterns, including a white and black square, with the words "will this pattern match your new sofa?"

Pigeons after years

I read that in the archives of the Home Office, and I have a sentiment towards this institution from years ago, information about military pigeons was found. Militarism has always attracted me too. I used to paint submarines and even Lunochod - a Russkies version of Lunar Module Eagle. In London, the MI5 archives document of a project that the English worked on after the war, until 1950. It envisaged the use of pigeons. They were to be sent deep into Russia in various ways, even by rockets: (...) a thousand pigeons with two ounces of explosive charge each - the author of this idea proposed - land at regular intervals in predetermined positions. The head of a secret project planning to use militarized pigeons to defeat communism was Lt. Col. William Rayner. Here are the originals released between 2000 and 2004:

         Documents now released to the National Archives reveal that the War Office intelligence section, MI14, warned: "Pigeon research will not stand still; if we do not experiment, other powers will.” Among MI14's proposals was the training of pigeons carrying explosives to fly into enemy searchlights. Meanwhile, pigeon enthusiast Wing Commander WDL Rayner suggested a "bacteriological warfare agent" could be combined with the explosive.

      The Ministry of Defense made public some secret files which contained details of an amazing secret weapon which MI5 seriously considered using during the Cold War. This secret weapon was so deadly it could wipe out whole cities in enemy territory, and would be so fearsome that it would reduce enemy countries to their knees. It could slip in and out of enemy lands without being seen and was undetectable to radar. What was this terrifying and awesome secret which would wreak havoc on any potential enemy? What was this fearsome and devastating weapon? It was the common pigeon.

        Yes, believe it or not, during the 1940's the government's Air Ministry had a special pigeon section, run by Wing Commander William Rayner. Rayner devised a plan whereby pigeons could be trained to fly into enemy territory, with a small explosive device carrying deadly poison strapped to their backs. The pigeons would be flown in a plane over enemy lines and then dropped so they would fly to their destinations and release their deadly cargo. Sadly, it was discovered that the pigeons would not survive the attacks, but it was said that the pigeons were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for King and country.

Lou Read from the afterlife

Louis not only once gave me a roof over my head, but introduced me to the world of music. In the sixties and early seventies he organized concerts, including Pink Floyd. His favorite artist was Lou Read. When I lived in Antwerp, I listened to records from Louis' extensive collection. Now, in the Internet age, Louis is surfing the net for songs and news from a time when news was not available. He tells me about it here in Warsaw. I invited him after so many years of acquaintance. He lives with me, as I used to live with him. He brought clothes from Martha as a gift for our child. Beata, my real angel, is pregnant and walks around the garden with a big belly. We go out to concerts and to have a beer with Louis.

And we're talking about music. For Herbie Hancok, the monotonous clatter of a concrete mixer can be as inspiring as a studio fire or the fog on Lake Geneva for Ritchie Blackmore's most famous guitar riff in "Smoke on the Water." Louis talks about Velvet Underground and Nico, about Andy Warhol's Factory, and I about his paintings. Like it or not, when talking about the relationship between art and media, I mention Robert Rauschenberg and the question arises whether the experience alone is enough to reach the essence of art, whether it is necessary to understand the context, time, social relations and what we call internal processes - purely musical , be your own logic - image, work. Let me remind you that Adorno argued that whoever did not understand these musical processes in Beethoven's symphony does not grow up to it, as does anyone who does not see an echo of the French Revolution in it, and I am trying to convince Louis that he will also fail to understand King Crimson. He will not hear the echoes of Vietnam, Auschwitz, the Gulag or anything from the rich 20th century charts of madness in the 21st Century Schizoid Man. - Why? Louis asks. - Because entering the 21st century, we wonder what madness will bring us. Louis replied, "You really heard an echo of Vietnam in the way Jimi Hendrix played the American Anthem in Woodstock." Louis promised to record and send me a set of the most important music for him. He mentioned that Chopin would be there, and Miles Davis, and the most important works of his beloved Lou Read. A month later Martha called to say that Louis was dead. He was 83 years old. A week later came a bundle of records that Louis had made for me himself, and he wrote about each track, from which album, from which year. With the date of recording. The last one with Lou Read's songs.

About painters

I made friends with Grochola, a poet who writes very well and claims that one day she will be famous and rich. She's not at the moment. Recently, we came up with the idea of writing a book together. The story takes place in Switzerland, in an antinuclear bunker, hidden under a hamburger booth in Zurich. Painters are hiding in the bunker. We don't know what they're hiding from yet, but we'll figure it out soon.

Painters, they hide sometimes

Auschwitz

I went for the third time. Alone. In complete silence. Something is making me go back there. It is impossible to describe, not much to think about. But I did paint some paintings. I returned to my old student painting ideas, a bit simplified and naive, but it's not about paintings. For a trace. Horrible

Kosuth and others

I got "Twilight of Aesthetics" and everything is there! Almost. Adorno, and there's Binkley, the lyrics that I once met in London. There is also Kosuth, what's more, I meet him for the second time, this time here in Warsaw; an interview with him after the lecture at the Contemporary Art Centre. And I ask him about art after religion. Surprised.

Fragments from 1986-1995

What does it mean?

(July 1993)

 

I painted a painting that was about something. I wrote words on the canvas. Basically, these were words about the same thing that the painting was about. What does "Basically" mean here? Over years, I wrote down various stories that led me to paint this painting. This text on the canvas was about something, but the painting is not "about something", it is just the painting. There is some relationship between text and image.

What does "Some" mean?

Or maybe it doesn't exist?

What if there is a non-relationship between text and image?

What does it mean?

Client

(Copenhagen, 1987)

I talked to Didier about the role of the gallery. After the opening of my exhibition, he said it was a success because we sold many paintings on the spot, there were a lot of people and it was nice. I told him that if he wanted to be crowded and nice, he could go with them to Bo-Bi Bar and it would be even nicer. And I don't like "we sold" either, because it's not my job, it's his. I have a problem with this. Sometimes I talk to "clients", but I rarely come out unscathed. Rarely does someone who says "I want to have it" and talks to me about art buy paintings from me. Usually, and this was the case at the opening of the last exhibition, someone wants something from me that I don't have.

Louisiana, Sontag and Malevich

Beuys believes that art triggers the audience's criticism and activates them. I spent all day wandering around Louisiana, near Copenhagen. I stared at Kiefer and wondered what his work "did" - as Sontag would put it, and it "did" a lot. I read books and catalogs in the usually empty reading room overlooking the sea. One day I was wandering through the exhibition halls and came across a group of American tourists. They talked about their children's schooling, insurance costs, kitchen equipment prices and stock market indicators. They rarely looked at a painting and, without stopping, said, "Look, that's nice." There was no access to one of the rooms, there was a rope and a note hanging between the walls with the inscription "Renovation" and it was visible that the floor heating was being replaced. They looked inside, someone said “renovation” and they moved on. They looked into the next room, someone noticed that it was also under renovation and they moved forward. In the second room there was Beuys's work "Honey Pump". It consisted of pipes, engines and vessels filled with honey, creating a system, as Beuys himself called it, like the circulatory system of society. Museums, exhibitions, and especially art fairs have become a popular, fashionable place to spend time "culturally". After returning from vacation, it is a good idea to tell your friends over dinner that you have been to one museum or another. Americans have the concept of "mall walkers", there is "window shopping". Are there any “art walkers”?

A few years ago I met Martin Kippenberger, before he became famous. We drank a bottle, talked, and smeared something on cafe napkins. We talked about galleries, exhibitions, and life. He talked about his plans, ideas and paintings. He liked my idea of putting a space rocket in front of my house in Warsaw, which would be a promise of being able to launch myself into space if communism bothered me too much. This was my idea if I were to return to Poland permanently. And neither of us thought of making excuses.

This is what happened with the racket: my friend Luc, with whom I sometimes stay in Edegem, shoots a bow. On summer Sundays, he meets with a group of friends ranging in age from students to late retirees, and they shoot arrows at a target hanging on a high tower. They built this tower on purpose in a clearing in the park. Luc invites me sometimes as an honored non-shooting guest. In addition to bows and arrows, there is beer and something to eat. I told them that the shield reminded me of Jasper Johns, but they didn't know who it was, and that I associated shooting with shooting stars, which is romantic, and stars with space rockets and launchers. And they once told me that there was an advertisement in the Belgian press about the sale of scrap rockets for pennies. Sure, they weren't any space rockets, just meteorological ones, small ones, but they looked roughly similar - tubes with fins. And they actually cost almost nothing. So I thought that I could paint it in NASA colors with the US flag and put it on the lawn in front of the house. Even later, I asked at the customs office in Warsaw; I couldn't bring a rocket, but I could bring a meteorological device - there was a separate customs tariff for such devices. I just don't know how much of this is innocence from the times before the theory was created, when art didn't need to justify itself.

* * *

In Louisiana, I saw Malevich's sketches and drawings and read several books. The Black Square is the beginning of thinking about art in non-Platonic categories, but is it its end? Is this the point at which the universe of art focuses, opens and closes at the same time? After all, the Soviets did not organize Campo di Fiori on Red Square.

Susan Sontag argues that questions about the value of art arose with Plato's mimetic theory of art, which is supposed to imply some kind of explanation requirement from art. Moreover, Sontag says that Plato may seem to have questioned the value of art. And she points out that the first theory of art was Platonic mimesis, i.e. the imitation of reality. According to Sontag, the earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality. It is at this point that the peculiar question of the value of art arose. For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself. Plato, who proposed the theory, seems to have done so in order to rule that the value of art is dubious.

But a little further she says that the mimetic theory is somehow equivalent to the belief that art is always figurative and adds a disturbing sentence that the defenders of this theory do not have to close their eyes to decorative and abstract art. This "and" worries me.

“In Plato and Aristotle, the mimetic theory of art goes hand in hand with the assumption that art is always figurative. But advocates of the mimetic theory need not close their eyes to decorative and abstract art.”

It worries me because the juxtaposition of decorative and abstract art into one set of phenomena opposed to the concept of always and necessarily presenting art equalizes them in a certain automatic way. It is true that Sontag goes on to say that the false belief that art is always "realism" (and she rightly puts this realism in quotation marks) can be omitted without moving at all beyond the problem defined by mimetic theory. “The fallacy that art is necessarily a “realism” can be modified or scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory.”

Maybe this is the wrong term to worry about. These sentences force me to ask myself what the Black Square is after experiencing the division of art into "after Duchamp" and "after Picasso". It can be said that the urinal closed the examination of the limits of art (because why examine the already explored?), and Picasso closed the discussion of "representation". But if this is true, then the question arises, what did the Black Square open? These are questions, or rather issues, for the daring minds of pearl divers, for me the task arises of how to paint the picture that "opened" the Black Square. In other words, how to deconstruct it, conventionally using Jacques Derrida's term. If "there is nothing beyond the text", then there is nothing beyond the image. Is it possible to paint Black Square today? How to do it? And why do I blend Susan Sontag's thinking on art theory with Derrida, and then add Wittgenstein? Because my Black Square will be (if I ever manage to paint it) as "mimetic" and as "realistic" as it was "decorative" Malevich's work. Today's Black Square will be, on the one hand, an image of a painting, and on the other, an attempt at interpretation. It should omit, abandon, as Sontag says (can be scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory), the problem set by Plato's mimetic theory, it should be as "realistic" as abstract art is not decorative and as "out of time" insofar as the Black Square was the beginning and the end, it was a point of infinite value. Interesting task.

Fragments from 1981-1985

The exhibition sucked, one painting sold
(1981)

I have my first exhibition in Antwerp. I live and work upstairs at Louis's, he gave me a free apartment for my studio. Getting hot, I paint fifteen paintings, each of which is supposed to be the next step, a milestone, of course. Is not. The night before the opening, I walk around the gallery alone for a long time and I see that something is wrong. In the morning I can clearly see that the exhibition is bad. I add one more painting. The opening is solemn, a professor from the Academy speaks, and I know the exhibition sucks.

Someone buys one painting. The one that I added at the last minute.

I'm going to Brussels to meet a guy someone recommended to me as a "successful salesman". I imagine that I will meet a distinguished art dealer; once in London I met an extremely elegant poster collector. There's a guy in a bad suit waiting for me at the bar, looking around nervously. From time to time he raises his hand and demonstratively shakes his gold watch. He speaks quickly and makes no sense. As he introduces himself, he is an outstanding salesman of everything. He claims that he approaches sales scientifically and can successfully sell anything. He claims that he can also sell paintings, although he admits that he has never done so before. Recently he sold Russian Volga cars.

“How?” I ask out of curiosity, even though I was about to leave.

“I told customers that they were as solid as Soviet tanks... and better than Mercedes.”

He must have taken my wide-eyed look as a sign of interest, because he continued: “If you want, I can get you a car with better equipment at a lower price. It has a solid chassis, a large trunk, you could carry a lot of paintings...”

I already know what excellence in selling anything means.

                                                                                                                                                        * * *

My friend Luc, he just finished his economics degree, got a job and is a business enthusiast. We are sitting in the evening at Acker Bilk's on Hovestraat in Edegem, drinking beer, and I tell him about the outstanding salesman. Luc is disgusted.

“Real marketing is not about pushing bullshit, but about revealing hidden human desires. It allows people to better understand what they need.”

“I doubt it. There was a fashion for tight trousers, there was a trend for loose, flared trousers. Now it's back to even tighter ones. Is your teaching trying to bring out my hidden need to have my balls kicked?”

Luc tries to protest. But I have my say: “When marketing can no longer convince anyone to wear tight-loose trousers, they will invent trousers with holes on the ass.”

Luc protests. “Nobody will buy trousers with holes...”

“Will buy. If marketing convinces them that it's better this way, and the crowd of guys with gold watches will throw in the right amount of bullshit. Have you ever seen the Volga car on the streets of Antwerp?”

“I guess so,” Luc replies uncertainly.

“Next time, ask the owner if it's better than the Merc and if it can fit a cow in the trunk.”

Success with a capital S.
(summer 1982)


Faithful to my ideas, I persisted in the stubbornness of escaping "school" and if I had already painted something bearable or acceptable, I immediately plunged further, deeper, differently. In Antwerp, and more precisely in the elegant Edegem where I lived, I already had a few "my" clients. The best was Ernest, driving his big, horribly ugly, and horribly expensive Mercedes and paying thousand francs for a painting. One gallery even bought ten paintings in bulk, and I bought myself an orange Talbot Sunbeam and rented a large studio in the city centre, behind the Vlaamsekaai. Cobbled street, abandoned houses, one corner shop. And one summer day I stood in front of this shop rummaging through my pockets. It was Saturday morning, everyone on vacation, the city warm and empty and suddenly alien. With the rest of the change in my hand, I asked myself the fundamental question: a roll or cigarettes?
I chose cigarettes. Luc's gone for the weekend, I went to Edegem's at Louis for breakfast. He scolded me, borrowed gasoline, I packed all the paintings and had ten of them, and headed for Ypres, with my orange Talbot. Or Ieper, if you prefer.
I knew two people there and knew that they rarely left. Geert loved his city, told me about it and showed me for hours around the medieval market square with the largest secular Gothic building in the world - the Lakenhal hall. And he told the most about the great battles and gas attacks during the First War
Who knows that mustard gas is also called Yperite from the city's name, hand up. At the end of the Second World War, Ypres was liberated by General Maczek's division, but it was not for this reason that Geert had already bought three paintings from me. I was hoping he would buy another one. Which would allow me to live another month, pay my debt, buy paints, and so on.
If not, there was Paul. He traded cars, and there was a chance he would buy my Talbot. Another month, debt, paints, and so on.

Ypres on Saturday afternoon was as extinct after a gas attack. Only through the square there was a crowd of sweaty tourists. I saw Geert when he was leaving the house. His straw hat and bright suit made me realize my T-shirt of medium, if not second freshness, and shorts, stubbornly could be called tennis shorts. It was a really hot day, and my Talbot, you can guess, was not air-conditioned. Geert was in a hurry. I had no choice: in two words I revealed the purpose of my visit. Geerd hesitated, then grinned widely.
- I'm going to my friends out of town for dinner. They saw your pictures at my place and they liked it. Give me a ride, we'll give them a private show.
A large country house with a manicured back garden. The hosts appreciated my outfit and probably already out-of-date sunglasses as artistic extravagance. Lunch, or rather dinner, was to start in the evening. Geert mentioned that I had paintings with me, which did not arouse much interest. By staying here longer, I could undoubtedly spend a nice evening, eat well, which has not happened often recently. But I could also miss the chance to sell Talbot, which was my last resort. Paul had a house next to his business, but I couldn't come over Saturday night. After a short conversation with Geert, who said that all the guests weren't there yet, and after talking to the hosts, I set up the paintings on the garden terrace and headed to Paul.
He was just closing the business. We drank coffee, showed Talbot, talked to his wife about the movies, and that was about to end my unexpected visit when Paul remembered that he had a customer who had already bought Talbot from him once. He grabbed the phone, talked for a while, and wrote down the address on a piece of paper.
- Go to him, he's waiting for you.
I wandered around with asphalt country roads, because in Belgium country roads are better than main streets in Warsaw not to mention Hitler's only highway near Wroclaw (there is also the Goering highway in Lower Silesia, but it's a different story). After an hour, I think I hit it. The guy was crazy about cars, he loved Talbots and his wife, and he bought one for her. We went for a test drive; the car smelled with oil paint, she said it was like a new car. We wrote the contract in their kitchen, we counted the money several times, because someone was still wrong, and it was quite a large bundle. I asked them to give me a lift to the bus that ran on the main road into town.
I breathed a sigh of relief only sitting on the bus. I had money in an envelope which I clumsily kept along with my passport, documents, keys, senseless sunglasses - it was already dark, and a few other small things that had got lost in the car. I didn't have a car, and I had ten paintings and a folder of drawings somewhere in the area.
I reached Geert's friends well after ten. The banquet started, I gladly drank a few glasses, ate the leftovers, and then the lady of the house said "Auction". A large lamp was put on the terrace, and someone had spread the drawings on the table in the middle of the terrace. The paintings stood leaning against the balustrade. I got into talks about my works: what is it, what for, which way. I made a passionate speech about the freedom of the artist, about the rejection of established hierarchies, about the right, as if regained yesterday to establish one's own criteria of value. Sipping the whiskey, I indicated that this right of freedom should be used to search for the truth that art is supposed to express. The music was playing loud, and it seemed to me that here and now I was finding this truth about art and confirming its existence in my works.
After an hour it turned out that almost everything I had brought was sold. I gave Geert a small canvas with the inscription "this is a duty of an artist to paint one painting daily".
I really don't know where they had so much cash with them, or maybe it was just "so much" for me. Anyway, part of the money for the paintings was immediately given to me, the rest was to be provided by Geert later. You won't believe it, but the wads of banknotes, pinned together with an elastic band, I put, sorry, in my panties, because where was I supposed to put it? It was around two when I got to Ypres station. It was closed. It turned out that the trains do not run at night, the main route passes through Kortrijk, some 30 kilometers away, and only from there can I get to Antwerp at night. The nearest train departed at five in the morning.
It was a warm summer night; I went for a walk, found a bar, wandered around the empty city until early morning.
I got to Antwerp before eight. It was Sunday.
I headed to Louis. I paid the debt, we talked.
I felt lousy.

- You've got so much money, you've been successful. What is your problem with? It occurred to me that there, on the terrace, sipping my whiskey, I was doing the same thing as that guy selling the Volga to idiots by shaking his gold watch.
- Shit - that's all I had to say.


                                                                                                                                                        * * *

Friends came from London and suggested a trip to France. First an exhibition in Valenciennes, then a banquet in Capbreton. A village at the end of the world that I've never heard of, and of course Paris on the way. I hesitate because I don't have a French visa. I do not have English either, the previous one has ended, and when I applied for a new one, at the embassy in Brussels, the consul refused. I told him I wanted to go to London on vacation. He didn't believe the motherfucker. And he advised me to go to Poland for a British visa. Go yourself, I thought.
Louis says, "If you couldn't go to London, go to Paris while you're already so moneyed." Loaded, says Louis.
The guys say that the exhibition in Valenciennes, at which they have the opening, is in a palace near the city, right on the Belgian-French border, and we can walk there through the garden and the field. No visa needed.


                                                                                                                                                        * * *

… So in Biarritz, I had a great idea. I bought a postcard with three girls sticking their asses out on the beach and sent them to the British Consul in Brussels with holiday greetings.
By the way, I made a decision: I will paint naked asses until communism collapses. Then I will no longer need visas.


                                                                                                                                                        * * *

A friend of Stefan Knapp, whose father is MP, tried to help me with a visa to London. She said the idea of sending three naked asses to the British Consul was lame because these guys had no sense of humor at all, and the postcard would end up in my files at the Home Office.
The Russians landed on the moon by sort of a boat, the Americans personally, and I landed in the Home Office files with a postcard with three naked asses. Everyone has the space conquest they can afford.
A friend of Stefan Knapp brought me newspapers from London. I read in The Times that antennas will soon be available to receive any TV broadcasts from transmitters in orbits. I came to the conclusion that the communists would not be able to drown out the signals from space and that communism would collapse because it would not be able to lie anymore. I mean, he will be able to, because they can't do anything else, but no one will listen to it, because everyone will watch the BBC news. And I won't have to paint naked asses for the rest of my life.

 
Student, or brothel phenomenology

Ernest, or Nest, the one having the most expensive Mercedes, is an alcoholic. Louis says he's his best client. Also mine. Nest is large, bulky, and wears an elegant suit. A few minutes after five in the afternoon, he shows up at the diner, parking his golden brown Mercedes just outside the door, and walks in with a shout of "Hello Rozenhof!" This is the name of Louis' pub in Edegem, Mechelsestwg on Mussenburglei. Small building with a rounded corner and an apartment upstairs, my first studio in Antwerp. Nest sits down at the bar, Louis gives him a double whiskey, then another and Ernest begins his stories. Recently he talked about how hard work he has. He owns a big business downtown and gets to work before eight. On the way to his office, he says, he has to pass by all the desks of his numerous accountants, assistants etc. who deal with drinking coffee, talking, making nails, and he, Ernest, is so pissed off that he has to pay them for this idleness that when he arrives to his office, he takes a bottle of whiskey from a drawer and bangs a goblet to calm down. I have no idea what his company does, but Ernest is rich, has a big villa in Edegem, so he is doing well, despite the idleness of everyone around him.
After drinking a few rounds, Nest nods knowingly to Louis, who places his phone on the bar and Nest calls a nearby brothel. If one of his favorite girls is free, he stumbles majestically out of Rozenhof, gets into his even more majestic merc and sets off for the rest of the evening. And if not ... if they are taken or if they are not there, he continues to drink or offers me a game of chess. Sometimes he says, "If you win, I'll buy your painting." He always loses. Not because of some of my chess excellence, he just plays badly, and is drunk. I have to admit that Nest is the only one who appreciates my pasted pictures with naked ladies. And this is how a deep, not to say ontological and phenomenological relationship was created between my artistic successes and the availability of girls in a nearby brothel.

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