jackson pollock

I first saw lavender mist in the flesh at the Tate Gallery, London when I was fifteen years old and trying hard to put together a portfolio good enough to get into Art School. The magazine and fine art prints I had seen of Pollock\’s work before then didn\’t do his paintings any justice. None at all.

I entered the gallery and his 7\’ x 9\’ canvas stopped me dead in my tracks. It was just like walking into a wall.

A brick wall on which some angry primate genius had been let loose with paint and a utensil other than an academy sanctioned brush.

I say primate for good reason.

There was nothing remotely primitive either in the intent or the execution so far as I could see. It simply looked as though some huge but agile ape had been let out its cage. I sank into one of those padded benches they leave dotted about the place as if intended for the infirm and stared at that painting for the better part of an hour. The party of school kids I was with, some good friends among them, wandered off and left me alone to grapple with my response and I didn\’t meet up with them again until we were all back out on the street. The Provisional IRA staged a terrorist campaign in England\’s capital that summer and three of us were dressed in camouflage fatigues and paramilitary boots, which didn\’t sit at all well with either the Tate\’s security staff or the police patrolling the pavement. Neither did our pronounced accents, which – to the untrained ear – appeared to sound every inch as cosily cosmopolitan as Gerry Adams\’. This wasn\’t that many years after publicans were censured for displaying signs reading \”No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs\”. Put our dress code down to juvenile naivety as opposed to delinquency.

If you have gotten this far with only prose for comfort and are possibly wondering what song or group I have chosen to illustrate this post, forget it.

Most of the time music works for me, but sometimes you have to go with silence.


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