Veronica and curves…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s silly mammals are the ones with phones and watches.

An airmail envelope gently thwacked through the letterbox this morning; it was from Veronica Crush, writer from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, now living in New York with tall tree surgeon and heir to a multimillion dollar fortune, Monty Tick. She said that they might be passing through Dulltown in a week or two on their way to Amsterdam for some big arty event, and might call to see if any of the old HSL members would be available for a quick reunion… She included a new piece of her daft writing in the envelope too:

Axel Waxle sighed, stretched out on the dusty settee, tossed his sketchbook and pencil onto the floor, and clicked the TV on, just for the company; he liked the flashing colours, but he always had the sound turned off, should the words draw him into thinking about things, things that he didn’t want to think about. He sighed for the second time and put his sock shod feet up on the spongy threadbare arm of the settee. He fumed intentionally for a few moments. He fumed about his life, the world, and his art; he was slowly coming to the realisation that three-dimensional painting really wasn’t going anywhere…
Of course, his paintings weren’t really fully three-dimensional, no cheeky abstract protuberances or polychromatic poking fingers of stiff paint and the like, no, they were skyscapes, landscapes, seascapes, and escapes; yes, they were what one might call ‘figurative’ work, but without any figures. The reason that they might be considered three-dimensional was that they were painted on special curved canvases; curved smoothly in the gentle arc of a circle; when displayed they were hard and firm against the wall at their centre, but eased themselves out from the wall on the left and right-hand sides. Axel had at first struggled to master the technique of mounting canvas onto curved stretchers; but had eventually triumphed over the concomitant annoying sagginess and wrinkling of an inadequately supported non-Euclidian flexible fabric substrate.
He described his work as being dioramic in form, taking his inspiration from those dioramas that can be seen in museum displays, with depictions of distant snow-capped mountains, clouds, wooded slopes, on a concave surface behind the stuffed reptiles, furry creatures, snakes, etc. lolling on the sand and on the cardboard rocks.
It was a great idea, paintings that wrapped themselves ever so slightly around the viewer, filled their field of view, and drew them in, producing quite a realistic three-dimensional effect – but, of course, nobody bought them…
People wanted flat paintings – paintings that minded their own business, kept close to the walls, paintings that knew their place, paintings that didn’t intrude, poke, and insinuate themselves into people’s personal-space, comfort-zone, living-room ambience; after all, who would put up with having their elbow brushed, or even nudged, when walking past a painting?
There had been a flurry of interest in Axel’s work in the early days, he had sold several works, but success didn’t last. He discovered that all of those pieces had been bought by lighthouse keepers, who were delighted with them, having struggled for years attempting to hang normal flat paintings on their curved walls. Of course as soon as all the lighthouse keepers had acquired all the paintings they had space for, Axel’s sales dried up. One or two people who lived in castles that sported round turrets bought a few, but it was a small and quickly saturated market.
Axel stared blankly at the TV and pondered on life and art – being interviewed on the screen was that well-known flat artist David Hockney – Axel sneered for a moment, sighed for the third time, and then looked away. His eye caught a glimpse of a tattered paperback book lying on the floor by one of his boots; it was John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row which he had recently finished reading… He closed his eyes and dozed…
Axel’s dream was a troubled one… Look… see them… there… the people who live back in Cannery Row, that couple, the ones who lived in the discarded boiler, (were they Mr and Mrs Malloy?) oh dear, he thought that they might be drunk – but they were now bang bang banging on Axel’s rickety rickety plank door, they were shouting and complaining that the two beautiful paintings that they had bought from him, and for ten cents each! – which perfectly matched the curvature of their boiler-dweller living room wall, were giving them terrible pains… In slow motion, a plank from the door splintered and fell inwards onto Axel’s dirt floor – a dirty fist, the size of a cabbage, came crashing through another… the couple squeezed in together through the gap – both had their heads tilted hard down to the left, muttering that they should really have plumped for a couple of nice Hockney prints instead of dealing with a… Axel tilted his head sideways to more easily talk to them. They explained that if their boiler-home had been upright like a ship’s funnel the paintings would have been fine, but their boiler was on its side, so when they hung the works, because of the curvature, his seascapes were ninety degrees to cock, hence the neck pain!… What the hell was he going to do about it!… Yes!… What the hell was he going to do about It!… They looked as if they were about to throw him a curve…
Axel jumped, blinked his eyes, and sucked air in… He calmed himself and then sighed for the fourth time that day. After a moment or two he reached out and picked up the sketchbook and pencil from the carpet. He opened a new page. Perhaps it was time to join Hockney, and the rest of the dullards… and go flat?…

Veronica Crush. 2015.

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in art, books, brain, dreaming, Dulltown, Hull.UK., humour, information, painting, story, surrealism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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