Texture, sketching, sumptuous colors…suicide and Fight Club! (1)


A few days ago I got lucky. Found a box full of my old journals (I almost forgot I have ever written “journals”…  Browsing with curiosity I found out that, in fact, I seem to be, as an artist, as a person, much more consistent that I thought. I recognize, here and there, ideas I still believe in, the source of actions I still try to fulfill today…

Here it is a note (originally written in French) from 09 of May 2002 :

…”Texture, rapid sketching, sumptuous colors, that’s what I would like to develop, to deepen, in my art…”

Textures and sumptuous colors, like, I hope, in this one:

This is quite true today (even if now I have some new fields to dig into… digital art, digital collage with my own drawings and paintings and photographs, rapid portraits, grand format portraits and so on…) I’ve started to scan some of my old drawings form 2002 and on. Some of which where not yet scanned and almost forgotten. And rapid sketching too, like in this one (but better!):

Just a primitive sketch and not a very good one but, as it happens, quite significant, in my personal history. It’s me, committing suicide by cutting my wrists, in the locker room of Thona, the factory I’ve worked at the time.

In fact, it was the beginning, for me, in becoming a full-time artist .

In the spring 2002, I was at the end of my mid-life crisis (you know, what Dante called, nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita…) and at the end of my rope… I was 46, working in factories (the longest at Thona, a producer of rubber products for the auto industry).  I was what they called a “surmouleur” , I was molding rubber pieces on a 27 t rubber molding press machine, working 8 h per day – mostly by night or by evening, the day shift being reserved to workers with greater seniority…)  An aspiring artist and mostly a teacher or an “intellectual” most of my previous life… never worked in a factory or manual work since I was 43, a fresh immigrant with family problems and bills piling up… It was harsh work, in intense heat, great noise and probably with enough toxic stuff to give you a tumor or two…

To make a long (and probably boring) story short: I was quite unhappy. I was working, ok, the bills were mostly paid with some beer money left but I had serious problems with my family, especially with my elder son.  I was separated from the rest of my family (wife and the 2 other children, teenagers) and I was doing a job for which I was not prepared and which, of course, I hated. Drawing, painting, taking photos, reading and writing, that was what I wanted to do with my life, not molding rubber for minimum wage!

I don’t know if I was seriously considering suicide. Maybe. Maybe not. Anyway, I was thinking of it a lot more than it was wise. I had long list of painters and writers and musicians that took that way out. So, yes, I was thinking about it. The sketch above proves it. But then, exactly when you think things are over and there is no way out (but that one) something happens… For me, it was an accident at work: my right hand got caught in the 27 t molding press! I was wearing 3 pairs of gloves, fortunately (2 were obligatory at that work temperature of almost 300 degree Celsius), and the security system worked partially but my right hand still got caught there for a few long seconds until I could, with the force of desperation, extract my hand. In minutes, pouches of liquid formed at the burned points and the ache become more and more intense. After the regular fuss, one coworker was assigned to drive me to Emergency, where some quite inexperienced and frightened lady doctor did bandaged my hand and gave me some Percocet. It was painful, it was unpleasant but after the first shock, I was incongruously smiling …

I knew, on the spot and without any doubt, that my manual worker’s days were over…

(to be continued)

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5 responses to “Texture, sketching, sumptuous colors…suicide and Fight Club! (1)

  1. I think it’s a great drawing. The background, the skewed perspective speaks more of the state of mind than the figure itself. It’s as if the floor tiles were falling on the figure like walls….and the dark stain (blood) adds to it…maybe your bravery to express your turmoil through art helped you work yourself through that crisis.

    • No doubt about that, Erika! drawing and painting (creating I suppose works for everybody, more or less) saved my life! I will write soon a post explaining what a slick use of that drawing and idea I made…Thanks for the visit! Have a nice, productive week and more!

  2. Fantastic painting, lovely sketch, amazing story!!! I loved reading about your turning point, and although painful, I’m glad it lead you to a more meaningful, fulfilling place. At least, I hope it did. Can’t wait to read the continuation.

    • Hello, hello, Moonbeam! I miss you and you humor (made some tentative to go and read more often your oh, so witty blog (whom I plan to nominate soon for the Kreativ Blogger Award!) Bloody bills piling up, bloody money piling (?) down…But, for the rest, I’m well which I hope and wish too for you and yours!

  3. Dearest,

    It’s rather brave of you to share with us all these so “intimate” life experiences and all the pain you felt …
    I entirely understand you! And when you feel like that, you never think that a turning point in your life is about to come and for the good… The sky seems to be falling down over us and we feel as if we were carrying the world on our back. We only see “black and white”. Sometimes grey in between… but no colour at all.
    Somehow I identified myself with you and it almost seemed you were giving me an answer (sharing life experiences) to my latest “hard times”.
    Your “story” is too deep to be commented on before a proper “digestion”, so I’d rather do it in a day or two.
    Your sketch is also very meaningful of your state of mind, of your lack of energy and strength. And everything seemed to be falling over you… the floor, being both floor and walls… and you… sitting down like that… looking down… giving up… you just couldn’t bear it any more….
    Fortunately this sketch (as far as could understand you) saved you in a way and had this kind of “catharsis” effect on you: you draw yourself committing suicide but you didn’t do it. It allowed you to distance yourself from your non-concious intention. Your sketch set you free you!
    (…)
    I love the way you write, you know it. And you turned this “life chapter” into such an exciting “painting” that I can’t wait to read the next one.

    xxx

    Yours

    C.

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