Today I woke up and I thought what fun it would be if I could call all my favourite painters (yet I'm unapologetic about wanting to be surrounded by just painters at my soiree!), for a dinner party. Now as I'm a great one for detail, I immediately decided it must be a cozy sit down meal at a wonderful round table; that would of course have a lazy Susan that we could all spin about like the wheel of fortune!....Or do I want it out in my imaginary orchard; under the branches of my lemon trees, with candles flickering and opium incense sticks wafting thin streams of delicate fragrance into the night? Well it will all finally fall into place!
The meal will be never ending; with food and wine and conversations that criss-cross time, with no yesterday or tomorrow in sight.
But first things first: the list of guests! With an overflowing black book with names that date back centuries, I must be careful not to offend dear friends or anger those that imagine a greater intimacy than is true! As all good (or so I imagine!) thinkers do, I sit down at my writing desk and wet the lead point of my stubby blunt pencil on my tongue; and start the list with the precise numbers of 1 to 10 that need to be filled up.
With all the corners of the earth under my microscope, I must say I get the shivers! Born on Halloween, I can wave my witches wand and with an abracadabra I make the calendars of yesteryear align to the date of my dinner, in an instant. Time zones and millenniums can all get packed way under the haystack !!
1) My old friend Balacanda, is high on my list of favourites, who drew and painted the dying Inayat Khan in the court of Jehangir in 1618/19. We often chat whilst I am holding this painting in my hand, and talk about how observation feeds the interpretations of painting. He will be coming tonight!
2) Fra Angelico's The Annunciation painted in 1450 is a treasured painting that I most definitely own as my own within the inheritance I gifted myself many years ago. We talk about how the visual devices of narration can deliver a million other stories from the magic of how you paint it. He will grace the table with his elegance, because to paint so beautifully you surely must be elegant too!
3) Mark Rothko the Russian born American painter has always been my quiet seducer. He has taught me the many secrets of what pure colour alone can evoke, and the stillness that violence can contain. We always collude to meet when I travel; and he makes sure that I faithfully keep my trysts with him; despite the many other temptations that attempt to lure me away! He will come, I know, because he knows how much he matters to me.
4) Yayoi Kusama will come to my party too! Perhaps dressed in one of her outlandish attires of a pointy hat with polka dots; she will sit silent as she converses with herself in her own head. But she knows that I can hear too. She knows that every time we meet; and she grabs my hand with an authoritativeness one does not believe she possesses; and often marches me inside the chaotic world of her madness where oddly sanity is brought to book through her visual orchestrations.
5) How can my friend Frida Kahlo not be there! She prefers coming in her grand bed rather than at an earlier juncture of her own life. Maybe it is the pain of many experiences that creates this bridge of a common connection for us; as women and painters. Her love of celebrating the feminine, where decoration and the intimate are explored is another area of an umbilical connection; and that the autobiographical and the outer world are sewn together seamlessly.
6) Some friends are anonymous, and take their shape and form from the whispers I gleam about them from their art. I have decided to make an exception, (its my party and I can be whimsical!) and am calling up a Japanese ceramic artist from the 10th century, whose style is known as ding ware. Exquisitely executed, they are a marvel in the preciousness of their timeless beauty. This guest will sit clocked in anonymity but by no means invisible!
7) Picasso would kill me if I left him out! A constant confidant, he is this old friend that held me on his knee when I was a pigtailed child with starry dreams. I must have often amused him, but he was always insistent that I understood the discipline of structure. Playful and ever the hero, he nonetheless taught me some of the basics of art with a rigor that no other insisted of me. He sits by my side these days, quietly, whilst I flirt elsewhere. But he know that I always am peeking at him from the corner of my eye. Arrogant fellow! He knows his worth as my friend!
8) Paula Rego will be keeping us company too. This Portuguese woman with alluring eyes, paints and draws with a vigour that marries personal myths into worlds of other meaning. We grew apart for a while, but I have recently drawn her back into the fold of my mental landscape; and I must say that I know she will tease our imaginations quite mischievously, when we all meet up at my dinner party tonight!
9) Balthus would fret if I didn't call him up to join us. He is another confidant who holds the attention of my senses, even when I am distracted!. It isn't always what he paints about that speaks to me; but how he paints. Edged into every work is that measure of disquietening strangeness that holds me fascinated forever.
10) And what would my dinner be without the presence of Francis Bacon?! I know he would brood in a corner, drinking away and perhaps be rather anti-social as well. But I love him nonetheless, and he comforts me with the knowledge that his inner demons could find peace in the space of release, that became his paintings; and that he could in that act of painting, distance himself from the personal angst that often provokes a visual expression to be born.
Now that they have all received their invitations, I am waiting for them under the star laden sky in the wooded grove, with the deer near my feet. Dream on friends, but on this occasion I can't let you into this playground of my imaginative desires. Go out there and find one for yourself. Trust me, its a great deal of fun !!!!