He is in the back of his studio alone. He sits against the backrest of the chair, staring up to the first row of drawings he’s pinned to the wall. His eyes scan down, soaking in all the imagery he’s created today, he tries to take in every detail, every energetic, arching line, every frenetic scribble every pressing scrawl, he’s searching for recognition, he’s looking for something familiar yet extraordinary . He grips tight on the charcoal stick in his hand, black dust falls onto his trousers. His hands are sweaty, he rubs one on his trouser leg leaving five smudgy black lines down his thigh.
None of the pictures fully grasp it, the thing he’s spent weeks, months, years of his career trying to capture. The shows, the galleries, the buyers all of it just a means to an end. It’s been like trying to remember the details of a dream, back from when you were a kid. It’s been elusive, but today he’s felt closer to it. He stays there just staring. Hoping something, anything might jump out at him and reveal the final piece to the puzzle he’s spent his life trying to solve. He knows its universal, when he sees it, it’ll change everything, paradigms will shift from it. When it reveals itself to him he will unlock the secrets of the universe. It wont be quantifiable , you won’t be able to measure it in numbers, it’ll be a truth that surpasses mathematics, that only some special part of us, separate from the brain and body, but part us all the same, maybe the soul, but he doesn’t want to put a name to it, only that part will understand it.
He turns, picking up his packet of cigarettes from the long drawing table littered with sheets of blank paper and broken charcoal sticks. He places a cigarette between his lips, pads himself down, where did he put his lighter? He rifles through the sheets on the table, looks around the studio but all he sees is half finished canvases leant against the walls, easels with works in progress, he realises,all of this, all of what he sees, this is his legacy, this work, it’ll survive a lot longer than he will. He thinks, it’s funny, people spend more time and money preserving art, inanimate objects, than they do trying to preserve their own lives..
There it is, his lighter, tucked precariously on the little brown ledge of the easel of PAINTING No.103. The painting he’s been working on for the past week, a commission, for some businesswoman. His agent at the gallery begged him to take it , she’s willing to pay a lot of money she said,it’ll fund your other projects she said.
He thinks the businesswoman only wants to hang it in her corner office in some skyscraper across town to be a conversation piece.
Hey, look at the painting I bought, see how rich and cultured I am, aren’t you impressed?
She’ll never get it, she’ll never understand what he’s really trying to do. He thinks, maybe no one ever will.
He rests his elbows on the windowsill, blowing a cloud of smoke out the open window. He listens to the peeling of tires on the wet tarmac from the street below. The city beeps and barks at him, sirens fade out into the distance.
He’s close to it, closer than ever.
What it is, he does not know.