Saturday, April 25, 2009

Aesthetics

My roommate brought home a painting when she got back from Amsterdam. It's huge, 2 feet by 4 feet, and is composed of deep blue, a bruise-ish purple, brackish green and occasional strips of white. Also teal, which is a color I have always hated. Have I begun to convey the fact that I really don't like this painting? It's meant to be abstract, I think--just wavy lines emanating from a central blue circle. Where the hell did this come from? I asked myself. Surely she didn't lug it all the way from Europe. I noted with trepidation that it's about the size to be hung over a couch, and that the wall behind our futon is conspicuously bare. Shudder. I couldn't really say anything about hanging it in the living room--not directly, anyway, not until I knew where it came from, especially since no fewer than 3 of my own paintings are currently on display downstairs (the difference being of course that mine are actually attractive). Why is it that there's nothing so truly off-putting as bad art? Is it because art is meant to be appealing, or to convey a message, and that bad art fails to do either one? Can there really be such a thing as bad art, I mused philosophically? Yes, the resounding reply came, and if you aren't careful you're going to have a big hunk of it hanging in your apartment forever, and your friends who know you paint will think you are responsible, and it sounds bad to say, "Sweet Lord Jesus, I'm not the one who did that. I'm not the one currently despoiling your retinas with what looks like the kraken emerging from the depths of oceanic hell."
I discovered later, when Roomie's boyfriend was over, that it was his painting. "I did that," he said simply, as if it were no big deal, as if he had not essentially just copped to aesthetic murder. "Oh." I said, and since I had given up lying--even little white ones--for Lent, continued hesitantly (hoping to convey a sense of fraternity, one artist to another--and further hoping he'd accept that as a compliment of sorts), "It's so big. Where do you go to get canvas that size?" We talked for a bit about the relative merits of Hobby Lobby versus Dick Blick's, and finally I said, "It'll look really great in Roommate's room."
"Well, it'd take up the entire wall, though, wouldn't it?" he said.
I wanted to reply, "Yes, but it would take up an entire wall down here, too, dammit," but refrained. I'm hoping the fact that Roomie hasn't put it up anywhere yet is an indication that she has no desire to do so. She's not the type to put things off. But until I know for sure, the painting crouches beneath the stairs, and each time I pass it I can feel it ready to spring.

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