WHAT IS WHO? WHO IS WHAT?
Caesar, that’s my name; teacher, it seems ages ago even though it still sticks like goo; artist, which is another gooey substance breaking life into spectral colours; once I was daubing colours in a little room protected by tons and tons of masonry, that was in Valletta, of course; and a small self-portrait, but you can hardly remember me doing that – in 1980 an anonymous writer wrote in a now defunct Maltese-language paper an article entitled “Naked in the Museum” describing me as ” very thin but with normally developed musculature. All wrapped in smooth hairless skin. Below, where there should be the belly sprouts something dangling from a tuft of hair”. Read further down about the fate of that drawing. The black cat grew old and probably committed suicide under some car. Now I’m out of the city still resting from several flights of steps.
thinker – reflection
To think about thinking and to reflect on reflection, now that takes some thought. I cannot deny I’m thoughtful but it always comes at a price especially since you generally pay for it in kind. Threading the line between thought and practice, or, as Hamlet might have it, between deliberation and decision, is gravely dangerous in art and warfare, but I think there is no other way. Perhaps there is.
artistic production – challenges – surprise oneself
I am sixty plus now (vague D.o.B.) and since the late nineteen sixties I have done enough art stuff to console myself I’ve used my godgiventalent as well as the two servants in the parable and not just gloated over the only talent well hid in the ground. With all that’s going on in the market, banking and whatnot, I think I’d rather bury my only talent like that lousy third servant than handing it over to a bank clerk! The surprises that emerged like sprites from the bank vaults can hardly be matched by the safe artistic surprises we serially indulge in within the confines of our artistic laboratories.
landscapes – people sleeping – a lot of people sleeping – sleeping together – intermingled bodies or parts (gericault?)
I take exception of (1) “landscapes” which sends me rushing to tubes of antihistamine, so much landscape there…while my *rs is right on top of a dunghill. And (2) poor Gericault. How can I compare to Gericault when I have spent my life comfortably on mother Malta’s lap, lapping holy milk as it warmly drips on my lips. Yes I painted a few people sleeping, but they were us dreaming the prehistoric dream within the confines of our shores. Our dream was collective and therefore one expects there was a sort of intermingling and commerce of body-parts, perhaps also an ambiguous intercourse among everything and everyone.
bodyparts – sexless
Now this really, what can I say? I am male, mature, marriedandsingle (here, only divorce could unravel the spelling) caused four natural births but was cheated of the first by an incubator. Yes, sex as mother church would have it. For some years I have been concocting simple-looking drawings of suspiciously human form, hybrid, incestuous, promiscuous, simply serendipitous. If this is not proper sex I confess I do find it sexy, risky too. However, losing your way does not necessarily deprive you of sex or of your body-parts. Does it?
Good old Freud’s Eros and Thanatos? Or just plain art-induced neuroplasticity? A little drawing you can easily reproduce, may change your life. What if I could claim that? I wouldn’t. But you might at least have some minor changes going on in your brain…
in-your-face orgy or multiples of the same self?
At first this startled me – perhaps because it is so chaotic. Yes, it reminds me of the nineties paintings of scrambled and mashed bodies and of the explicitness of the orgiastic, of the ecstatic loss of self on the knife-edge of sleep or death. For this reason one finds oneself repeatedly thrown in the mix and melting in chaotic fluids: fluidity – fluids – juices – dissolution – dismemberment of the body / human being
what is a human being? what is an artist?
I love Darwin. I love Dada.
what is Caesar? Who is Caesar?
A philosopher might want to ask: What is who? And: Who is what? A conundrum for you.
hybridity – human – animal – religious icons
You could have added plants and things as well, like onions, rocks and water pumps. We are now in the heartland of art, where sacred cows are hacked down, golden calves raised and then fulminated, icons defaced, and so on. In spite of Art’s conservatism and its atavistic tendencies, Art is essentially iconoclastic.
undo the body – dissection
Only if you have a body. Come to think of us entering through a wormhole into an age of virtuality where the skin that wraps us opens up to incredible virtual topologies… I too, have tried to undo the body.
learning and unlearning
I have spent most of my life learning to unlearn. This is perfectly understandable on these islands, less so in the liberal creative countries that lead the world in art and education. For instance, take philosophy at the R.U.M. until the seventies: If your name is not Aristotle, Plato, or Aquinas, you are probably in deep trouble. Take art at the Government School of Art. With too few exceptions, if you ventured beyond the Academy norm, at the most beyond early Impressionism, you are little more than a modernist…
Indeed, there is so much to unlearn!
killing fields – graves – genocide
The stupidest idea one can think of is chimp art, elephant art and yes, horse art. There used to be primary school pupils who also tried fly art: a fly – legs wet with black ink – is wickedly let loose on the pristine copybook of the brightest pupil. Art is only for us humans (all too human). I can perceive a child’s wickedness, but does it not camouflage behind ingenuity and artistry? So, I may venture to ask, are there killing fields, graves, and genocides in Raffaello’s beautiful madonnas? I believe there are, in the same sense as wickedness hides behind ingenuity and as human remains are concealed inside the most glorious and celebratory of Mausolea. Art overflows with whitewash.
humor in death – sex – perverse – provocative – sex, dying and the unknown, faceless subjects – castration, censorship, protecting the imaginary model? fetish?
…a long list. Obviously, censorship is the most topical. I was occasionally censored too, without, however, making me neither more nor less of an artist. A lot has been said already. However, in the 80’s I had that little pencil drawing I’ve mentioned above, censored out of my show at the Fine Arts Museum – you’d be surprised. Some years later, it formed part of a personal exhibition set up in the USSR in Moscow. I was later told that USSR officials objected to the same work. I wonder how on earth the atheistic but dictatorial state of USSR could have anything in common with the democratic but Catholic state of Malta?
the seen, the unseen and the idea suggested
In the previous note you wrote “protecting the imaginary model”. Is there a threat? Imagine…and suddenly you’re neither here nor there, but dubiously in the skeptic’s mind. The diligent realist painter, the photographer shunning the digital, the scientist reading off instrument panels; and after dark they meet up at the pub comparing imaginary models. I hope my later drawings can help you do it alcohol-free.
what is Caesar’s object of desire?
Desire. What a word! What a world!
Caesar – thin, average built, 60 something, Zejtun, (birzebbugia/marsaxlokk) Valletta, Zebbug flat open space studio and living
it helps to be reminded sometimes
paintings – sculpture – interactivity – production of toys and the design of a ‘playground’ / exhibition space
It is funny how you sandwiched toy-making and playful design between sculpture/painting and exhibition-space. Perhaps that is what we have been doing all the time; that is, making toys and designing playgrounds. Let me just mention the very serious Renaissance fresco in the Sistina, the Last Judgement. Isn’t that a toy inside a playground? a perfectly safe enactment of a very, very serious reality (which, whether this was a really real or really mental reality it matters not). Perhaps if more people look at art like this I wouldn’t feel odd taking the piss out of my own works.
positive and negative – the relationship between the painted/sculpted to the ‘hollows’ it creates
Forget about positive and negative. I’ve had enough of this opposition. I’ve grown up inside negatives and positives, until they were oozing out of my orifices. I met them at home, in church, at school, at work, and in paintings: ‘figure and ground’ is a nice way of putting it. Positive and Negative should separate, divorce, so they can travel far independently of each other! Then we might see the last of them.
full – empty – meaningless – meaningful – many ideas embodied in one ‘object’ / piece
You said it. It is simply all of these, and none. I hope you make something out of all the above.