Portrait of Pablo

Reads: 119  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic

The white froth of the pounding surf was stained red with her spilling blood.

Submitted: December 15, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 15, 2017



Crouching….they always show them crouching on their haunches like ravenous feral animals about to ferociously pounce upon some innocent helpless prey, but Child with a Dove isn’t like that.  It isn’t like that at all.  The Hands Resist Him isn’t like that either, although the doll’s eye sockets are empty and she does appear to be frowning.  They use pharmaceuticals to make them “socially tractable” and induce a state of “mental calm”.

Pablo was no hero, he was a sad lonely misfit who had been born too late to reach the highest summit of his noble calling.  He’s not the sole victim of the genocide of painters.  It’s an artistic holocaust.  Any artist born post-photographic camera is stripped bare, shaved bald, rudely shackled by a society indifferent to the plight of the painter, and forced by stamped mold down the dark path that leads inexorably to the bottomless pit of despair which is the purgatory fate of all those who bear the ugly shame of being obsolete.

The grotesque images keep piling up, one on top of the other, inside my head.  The weight of the horrid accumulating mass is making my brain hurt.

The truth is I'm torn between inaction and fear.  I don't understand it.  Time seems to be flying by so swiftly.  Everywhere I look I see tombstones.  It's all out of control.  I can’t stop worrying that I’m helplessly rushing headlong, hurtling at breakneck speed toward the solemn muteness of the insatiable grave that waits for no one.  

Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, J. P. Kennedy, Coote Pinkney - they introduced me to such piercing vision with their haunting Southern Gothic.  It’s grim.  It’s macabre.  It’s witchcraft, yet it’s true.

When I randomly tossed a coin into the wishing well, the fountain became a reflecting pool, then all the chopped-up figures in those confusing paintings bled together in a sinister kaleidoscope of mental aberration.  The distortion of line, figure, color, and perspective is beyond what the vital mind can endure.  Exposure to the insidious influence induces vulnerability.

Life is full of so many dangers.  Even before birth we can be severely disabled or killed.  Lack of oxygen, attack by disease, malnutrition, blunt force trauma - we are so frail.  Is that what happened to him?  Was he simply unable to cope with overwhelming environmental stress?  Did the advent of the photographic camera assassinate the modern painter?….so much creative talent, which could have been cultivated into surpassing skill, laid to waste by economic abjection spawned by mechanized, mass-produced, push-button technology.

Disposable - the artist who once immortalized life on canvas was tossed on the scrapheap, a shibboleth rejected by the very society which, in days long gone by, adoringly canonized those with the mysterious gift of coaxing three dimensions from flat surfaces.  Yet, now what are they?  Beginning with the ill-omened introduction of the Daguerreotype, what has the painter created?

The ascetic gallery was lined wall to wall with nauseating effrontery to logic, grotesque abstract carcinogenic tumors afflicting the aesthetically disenfranchised mind  They weren’t paintings.  They were abominations.  I pleaded with her not to look.  I knew she would be walking on the beach later that dreary afternoon.  It was the Blue Period.  She was hypnotized, beguiled, spellbound.  I saw the looming threat of pathological depravity slowly passing over her once bright lovely face, sucking the vitality out of her lively features with a soul-subduing dark cloud of introverted hopelessness.  The dejecting chaos cut her off from all contact with society the way an orbitoclast brutally severs the connecting tissues of the prefrontal cortex.  Pablo’s frustrated cries of desperation lobotomized Alyssa.  

I watched her eyes.  I saw the expression shift from psychological balance into laconic emptiness.  The reticent quietude that sank down upon her comely visage was horrifying.  I never will forget the pitiful moment when she shrank away into a hollow space hidden deep inside herself never to be seen or heard from again.

It was not suicide, you understand.  She was dead before she entered the water.  It was as if the bubbling surf called to the vacant physical shape of Alyssa with a distant sing-song voice, the hypnotic power of which the maiden (whose mental faculty had been destroyed by the anguished agonized pleas of a dead painter who had been assassinated by photography) could not resist.  It was fatal.  It was final.

I had only stepped away for a few minutes.  I went to the snack stand for shrimp kabobs and lemonade.  I kept an eye on her from over my shoulder.  I must have drifted for a moment because the vendor, a recently arrived emigrant from Ukraine, began shouting in his foreign tongue and pointing frantically toward the Gulf.


But, Alyssa wasn’t swimming, she was drowning - purposefully, obliviously, paralytically drowning.  It was only her body though, because her mind was already gone, left behind on the gallery floor.  Nobody could understand that there was no need to attempt to save her, because at that point the physical body was only an empty shell floating face-down in the crashing surf like a corked bottle containing no message inside.

Alyssa Picasso eerily disappeared into those morally reprehensible paintings.  Her soul was lost in the gloomy oblivion of the forgotten artists whose life-calling has been rendered null and void by the alchemy of the photographic medium.

Cubism wasn’t an art movement, it was a lamenting funeral dirge, the last fading gasp of the unemployed painter.  And when the seventh seal was opened, a voice as of a trumpet sounded saying Mist! Vapor! Fleeting breath!  Vanity!  All is vanity!

Maya with Doll, Jacqueline, Les Noces de Pierrette, The Charnel House, The Blue Room - oh, how I wish Alyssa had never walked into the seaside art gallery on the sad day of the Picasso exhibit.  She would still be with me.

A school of hammerhead sharks moved in.  You could see their sharp dorsal fins ominously slicing through the sudsy surface of the salty turbulent water.  I stood there like a frightened child holding grilled shrimp skewered on wooden sticks and two lemonades.  Nobody was brave enough to venture in further than the shoreline after her.  The fins moved closer to Alyssa.  Her limp body made spasmodic jerking motions before it disappeared beneath the silencing undulation of the eternally shifting waves.  The white froth of the pounding surf was stained red with her spilling blood.

© Copyright 2018 Sean Terrence Best. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More True Confessions Essays