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Blood pudding with mashed potatoes. Picarones in sugar sauce. We walked laboriously, startled by the silhouettes of streetlights. Where to go? For a while we followed pedestrians whom we chose at random, until a bus or tram would stop us, putting too much mist between us and him, and we would lose him.
Then we would turn, alternating right and left, after something, anything. But, nothing. Its large window filters light through climbing vines with leaves that are always moving. The leaves turn the light green. The frosted glass turns the green aquatic. Ruben de Loa painted. What is more, for twenty-four years Ruben de Loa had painted without stopping.
When he saw us from behind his canvas, he approached us. We, out of courtesy, approached him. And the three of us performed the motions as if we were swimming, smoothly lifting off from the floor and floating slowly back down. He offered us seats. He sat there; my wife here; I sat across from them, in the middle. I said:. Because of the reflection of the vines, his long black hair looked like neglected autumn grass.
His jaguar features remained unchanged. His skin was still firm. To be sure, he is still young. He is thirty-one years old, given that he has painted for twenty-four years, and that he has painted since he was seven. His gaze was ninety percent inward. The remaining ten percent, as it poured out of him, was a bit empty and very kindhearted. He smoked a pipe, as a painter should. He did not sneeze or cough. Only every quarter of an hour he would say:. After an hour, Ruben de Loa began to look at she who is my better half.
I followed suit. She looked transparent, like a small tomb. But such was not the case for my old and dear friend, who had always looked at her, and who longed for her. Then I looked at my hands, wanting to see some part of me that was alive in that studio. Until, partially returning to life, I wondered:.
Then I thought a change of subject would be wise. I started right in on the art of good painting, saying to my friend:.
It was a sincere statement directed solely at his art, or more accurately at the atmosphere in which it came to be, since, in all honesty, he had shown us nothing yet of his work and the last canvas I had seen of his was from five years earlier. I was speaking, then, of the atmosphere, may that be perfectly clear. Work created exclusively under the influence of the color green cannot turn out well. This is less a studio than the depths of the jungle, or—even worse!
Is it possible to paint like this? This is a grey-green, better yet a greenish grey, and as for the jungle, this room has nothing more than the hue of a young eucalyptus, scarcely green at all, hardly, hardly. And this hue, upon analysis, has just as much right to live as bronze, the color of sunny days, or the violet of thunderstorms. Let us compromise with a grayish green, with the caveat that I have reservations about this latter term in particular.
He waited a minute and then, in a confidential tone, he told us, his gaze alternating between my wife and me. I have no wife or children or relatives or friends. I have no vices. And work is hard for me, working makes me suffer. And so, I have no pleasure.
I exaggerate. I have no more than one, one and only one. And this is given to me by precisely those leaves that you are asking me to cut. Sit here. You will see that their shapes and their shadows, when they move in the breeze, stop being leaves and become an infinite variety of fish swimming silently in a great green aquarium.
You see how they pass by, approach, move away, return, touch the glass, turn, disappear, reappear. Then I feel as though the water of the aquarium filters in through the window and, flooding everything, floods me as well.
And I, in turn, am a fish. I swim smoothly through the air, getting caught up in the smoke of my pipe. It is my only pleasure. You two forget that I am not a happy man.
In truth, my wife and I are happy, we have relatives and friends, and much pleasure beneath our sheets.
My wife frequents the cinema; I, the athletic fields. But aesthetics belong to us all, and so I must insist. Greenish grey, grayish green, jungle or young eucalyptus, say it how you like, but it has an effect on you. You will see, my friend, that the day must come when you see blue as green, yellow as green, orange as green, and black and white and any color in existence will be green to you.
Such a thing cannot last; from seeing so much green, you will stop seeing that very green. But, I tell you, this is not what knowing is, you have not gotten inside your green. At this rate the day will come when you even see red as green.
Not one word more! As he had done a moment earlier, our good friend waited a minute and then, looking at each of us in turn, he spoke to us in his confidential tone, to which he added a touch of sadness. You must realize: red is the complement of green, and this law of complements is the most important thing in this world.
Whatever complements, balances; whatever balances, stabilizes—very important, this making stable! Makes what viable? You will ask. Fair enough. I will explain. Makes viable the circulation of life through. Nothing more: through, t-h-r-o-u-g-h. Let us think about it for a moment, shake up the mind a bit. Life circulates through, it can circulate, thanks to its having something through which to circulate. This is elementary.
And it has this something thanks to the fact that there is, in that through which it circulates, a stability, and that stability is only possible thanks to a constant, or almost constant, balance, and for there to be a balance there must be at least two to balance.
Only one—with what, with whom, will it balance? And for the balance of the two to continue, those two must create between them a complement, let us say it straight out: they must complement each other. Otherwise, all is chaos, total extinction, a return to the day before the first day of creation. And in that case, not you or your distinguished little woman, not I or my paintings or anything else. On the other hand, as things stand now, as they are today, life circulates in a great balanced complement and I, poor Ruben de Loa, in the image of the Creator himself, can bestow total life, one more point, one more conduit, let us say, for it to circulate happily through.
That is what I do with my paintings here in my studio, my friends. And saying this, he darted about into several corners of the room, and from under various pieces of furniture he took twelve paintings and lined them up along the foot of the wall opposite the window.
My wife and I were plunged into a mute contemplation. Ruben de Loa stood behind us, lifted both arms so that one of his hands came to rest on each of our heads and in that pose, without moving, without blinking, he kept watch over our mute contemplation. Those of all the hours of the day and of the night; those of all the years of history. They contained all the greens the Earth has left behind in her advance, all those that are with her now, all that will come to cinch themselves to her in her future turning.
Those of the four elements. Those of ether. Those of the gestation of life in an ovum, those of birth and growth, those of plenitude, those that are created by eating away at the air inside of coffins. The green of silence, the green of murmurings, the green of pandemonium. The green of God. The green of Satan.
Ayer by Emar Juan
Ayer (Spanish Edition)
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