Plein air with regrets
After Gerry Davis’s ‘Plein Air’.
The artist shoves his hands in his pockets as plain-clothes strangers with brief cases line him up in the sights of their questions. He has a feeling he’s being watched from the bushes and looks towards them nervously; could be a sniper following his every move, or is he just being paranoid? This may be plein air but it’s no picnic. A good tweed jacket always lends an air of respectability, that much he learned from his father, though it seems they weren’t fooled this time. They had him spotted long before he lit the fire to burn the canvases he hadn’t sold. The easel was a decoy but now he looks at it maybe a bonfire wasn’t the most convincing choice of subject-matter for a tweedy watercolourist. One of them rakes around the edges of the fire with his foot, hopefully too late to salvage anything that will stand up in court. How did it all come to this? He never lacked talent, had his years of booze, girls, some boys - though London in the sixties was never as wild as people thought - should never have married, his father warned him, said alimony was a killer. He should know after three divorces. Did he just get lazy like his old man, or impatient, tired of waiting for things to come together - the right work in the right gallery at the right time? By thirty–nine he knew it wasn’t going to happen, he didn’t have whatever it was they wanted. But he could paint so why not make money? After all, look at the alternative: he could end up like his old man, serial lover-boy in his sixties, looking for another bride to pay the bills.
IMAGE: Plein Air, Oil on canvas, 149.5 x 120 cm, 2017. Gerry Davis©