Bitter Sweet

The candy-man inspected the work I had just placed on the easel, hands clasped behind his back. I opted to begin the private viewing with work from my ‘Scapes series; a body of work less descript than my other paintings in terms of content and more focused on energy and color.

He spent a few moments examining the work along with my friend who brought him in hopes of turning me on to a new collector. “Lobby art,” he flatly commented.

There was a time when I would have thanked him for coming and promptly asked him to leave, but I held my tongue. He took a step closer to the painting, head moving from side to side as he scanned the horizontal format of the work.

“Are those letters in there?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, “just part of the application of paint. I’ve developed my brushstroke technique to a point of rhythm where a sort of language is emerging.”

He remained fixed on the work with no acknowledgement of my reply, leaving me wondering if he even heard anything I had just said.

“Do you like sushi?” he asked suddenly.

“Excuse me?” my brow raised at the absurdity of his question.

“Because I think I see it written right here,” he said pointing to an area in the left portion of the sky. Indeed, I could see an “S” shaped brush stroke, but thought it was a reach to spell out the rest of the word. It was certainly never my intention and I couldn’t get over the fact that he would really think I would put subliminal advertising for fish into my work. I was beginning to think the candy-man was trying desperately to hit upon some gold nugget of knowledge to stroke his ego, but he was reaching too far and his commentary was awkward at best.

I bit my lip and remained silent. He continued to grasp for details, occasionally making comments to my friend as I accelerated the rotation of works to put our forced meeting to an end, fully aware he didn’t much care for my art. All the while, he continued making vain attempts to guess the motives behind my paintings. These were presented not as questions, but through cool assertions as if he had done the work himself. Eventually, he was able to say something complementary about one of my older works.

He was intrigued by the cubist approach in the composition and soon revealed that at one time he had painted. He went on to explain how he had set aside his creative ambitions to pursue his own candy company. It seemed to me, his stifled creativity was coming out in the form of criticizing others. Once I realized that, I began engaging him through his perceptions of art and sure enough, he softened up a little. By the time he left, I felt we had reached a common denominator, though I knew this mutual appreciation would never result in a sale… and I was fine with that.