Consider the possibility of becoming
a two-dimensional surface
with no thickness whatsoever.
No, face-down on the floor won’t get it;
at best your nose will be in the way.
You’ve got to get lower, closer,
melting into a puddle of candle wax,
or better yet
become a film of water
whose shapes and edges
are defined by the shapes and edges
of the surface on which you flow,
merging with the waters of others
to the tunes of gravity and surface tension.
A bit difficult to contemplate, isn’t it,
something like the frustration of attempting to fathom
the edges of the universe?
Painters live on the flat surface.
Malevich, for instance,
was in love with the geometry
and mathematics of planes,
the possible play of plane on plane,
so much so that his tombstone
was a thin, flat square of black marble,
his grave now lost,
existing only in period photographs.
Death is always loss,
not always being lost.
But I digress, again...
Painterly genius can bring life
to the otherwise neutral geometricity of the plane
such as do Avery’s skims
of fleshy orange and black paint
on his canvas of a nude woman in a black robe.
She’s featureless yet sensual in her flatness,
formless but rich in shape,
certain elements of her body defined
by only the shallowest possible suggestion
of the space that might exist
were a slip of paper laid atop another
of the same color.
The volumes of her body are reduced to outline
such that her left breast vanishes
into the surface of her body,
as do the swells and valleys of her belly, arms and legs,
only to emerge oh so slightly
in the faint roundness of her featureless face.
The cutout black-mass drapery of her robe,
itself all but alive,
encloses her body as she leans to the right,
levitating, supported by nothing.
She’s looking directly at me; I’m certain of it.
I can feel the worldly otherness of her invisible gaze,
read the erotic boredom of her pose,
the elsewhere quality of her thoughts,
the clarity of his abstraction,
the genius of her simplicity,
the unlimited virtue to be found
in achieving flatness for the sake of flatness.
Copyright © Jack Jordan