Fourth chapter of Clays
Change the petals
colors and smell
only my heart remains
what always was.
One evening in late October, passing through the fog that wrapped the streets, Brizio entered the studio of Zenone Caffaro, also knows as Stramonio1.
Due to mimetic epiphenomenon or etymological osmosis, he distinguished himself in the love for paradoxes, as the notable Eleatic, and in the lesser tendency towards acts of faith, as his last name would suggest to the expert of arabic languages.
The triskele island gave birth to him, together with a deep sense of becoming.
The Mountain, on whose belly he long lived, could have appeared to most people like a static sleepy pachyderm, perfect parmenidean sphere.
It could have looked like an unscratched and unscratchable granite, itched by waters and winds and fires, not at all fatuous.
To distracted philosopher or busy sailor, it could have inspired thoughts of ontological immobility, immutable essences, motionless transcendence.
The familiar observer could, instead, feel with no effort of the senses, the pliant flesh of the volcano, that moved in and out by intemperance and furies, adapted its own forms in order to resist; never ending imperceptible mutations against a guise of perennial stasis.
This way learned Zenone mutability, adaptation, impermanence and forgot the absolute.
He grew up in streets, havens, churches and dives. He loved the wine of his land, and of any other land to be honest, with a preference for the red, especially the sour and rich.
He left Sicily and went never back. Orvieto, the homeland assigned by fate, never filled that void, replenished that box at the bottom of the esophagus, where the fragile seed of the being bounces from side to side.
It was known in town for his unorthodox behaviors, forgiven by the self-righteous thanks to the saints and virgins his paint brushes created.
Brizio stepped timidly at the entrance and knocked at the door with his shy knuckles. Zenone, sitting on an old shabby sofa, a smoking cup on the side, was focused in drawing with slight and conscious gestures on a wide paper sheet.
“What a f…Now, where was I! Come in, come in!”. He said harshly.
“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t want to interrupt you.” Replied Brizio.
“Well, you just did, But nevermind I’ll start again later. How can I help you, young man?”, changing suddenly his tone into a sweeter one.
“Before I tell you why I am here, I would like to know what were you drawing.”
“Already blackmailing me?…Here, have a look”, turning the page in the direction of Brizio.”
The page was covered with geometrical figures, repeating, overlapping and wedging in, embroideries on the paper confusing the brain and creating new structures, that the eye imagined endless.
Brizio couldn’t not follow the branching of the lines, he focused on one of them and chased it trying no to lose himself at the crossings and at the bends, keen to make to sense of that indirect path to opposite ends.
“I know, it was the same for me the first time I saw them where I come from. And the ones I saw weren’t only drawings, but windows, vaults, columns as well…”
“All so complex?”
“Even more! Actually all those shapes are not so complex as they seem. You should look for the core, isolate that tiny piece that repeats itself and produce mosaics, regular still but that can drive you nuts.”
“I was trying to, I followed a line but I got lost almost immediately…”
“Don’t tell me, I don’t know how many times I hit my head at the intersection of two lines. You should not focus, widen your sight and let you eyes get familiar. The structure will appear magically all of a sudd…But wait, you still didn’t tell me what you want from me,at this time especially, how old are you, 13,14?”
“13 and a half!! I came for a simple reason, I wanna be a painter!”
“A painter? To paint what exactly? More Virgins and Saints? Aren’t the wall of the churches bedaubed enough?”
“But there is more than just churches…”
“Yes sure, but somebody should pay you and the only ones rich enough to pay love those virgins and saints, trust me.”
“I don’t care, I will paint whatever I’ll be asked to, but somebody has to teach me!”
“And you thought that an old drunkard like me could help you. You are brave!”, said Zenone ironically. “Maybe you don’t really know what to expect, to paint is to make your hands dirty, to stay awake for long hours busy with adjusting details, with your back bent and the knees creaking. And then the colors that are never the same, humidity deforms the figures, and those walls are always more crooked that you think…Did I scare you enough?”, he laughed loudly.
Brizio joned him in the moment of hilarity. He never thought about all this, not really connecting the paintings he saw with their same making, as they would have appeared with a snap of the fingers. But he could not give up in front of Zenone.
“Not at all, when do we start?”. He raised the stake, excited and scared.
1. jimson weed
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