By William Markiewicz
I did this painting in M's studio in Paris. I think of other pictures, not painted by me, with a popular message: marching spring that leaves a path of flowers in its trail. I see myself leaving a path of flowers whatever I paint and whatever I write.
No matter what it is, whether this picture or another, it is me and my creative power. It is me, and I leave it like an indifferent spring that doesn't know what it left behind. Or if it knows, doesn't care. Should I care? Surely yes. But I didn't; I thought I would always navigate on the eternal sea leaving diamonds behind. Late, I realised it wasn't true. Now I look as if at an old film on marvels I left behind which still exist, or not. M, with his visionary eyes, called me "Fallen Apollo." I didn't know what he was talking about; now I do.
M's studio was big. M was short and chubby, a great orator and a great teacher. A brilliant man and certainly a Fallen Apollo himself. I found him at some exhibition. He looked like a wild man, like some Tartar of another epoch. He introduced me to painting by his spirit, by his presence, not by his teaching. I painted in his studio, I don't remember how long. There were young people who believed they were painters and perhaps they were. Young and arrogant, some of them. Despite his big mouth, M chickened out – they had the last word, especially one young German who called him a stupid old man, or arrogant old man, I don't remember. And M, survivor of Auschwitz, tolerated a young arrogant German. Among them was a young man, perhaps from Mauritius. He was of Breton origin with his red hair, descendant of pirates who established themselves as the white aristocracy among the natives. Once he decided to abandon painting and I told him, "Remember that this decision doesn't belong to us." M added that God gave us freedom of choice. I remember some woman from Martinique who served as model. She was smart and a good psychologist and, I wonder if she was also a prostitute.She gave advice to younger women, maybe also from Martinique. A girl told her, I'd like to keep my man. I wonder what to do. The model replied, when he f*** you go, "Ahhh ahh ahhh." Apparently it worked!
M had a little wife who made a living at the sewing machine. I think he didn't make money. I think she believed in him but it was fading on everybody's part.I feel great melancholy looking at the past.
This has its history. It was done in Madrid over a very short time. Two of my friends; one Spaniard, one Congolese. They sat a short time but it was enough to make a picture. They were nonchalant about posing. It was in a sort of squatter's building. I don't know what the White man did but we were close friends. The Black, I wonder if he was involved in some erotic scheme because the girls sang and danced for him. It was a period when the Franquist regime was near its end and there was a chaotic mixture of youth demonstrations and police brutality. I remember the guys and girls living together, no sex – not with me anyway -- and one hot summer night, to defy the authorities, they played The International full blast through the wide open window and nobody cared and nobody came. Strangely, me, the foreigner, I was not afraid.Back to the index of the Vagabond