A Preparation For Silence by Laurence Fuller

Art by Lucian Frued - Poem by Laurence Fuller

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How did you know I was here? You heard those whispers in the dark, you spoke to me with intensity and challenged excaliber to raise above the armies of my heart. It wasn’t enough to fight until many nights passed with clarity and home felt warmer. 


Feed the man befriending visions, early decisions question closeness, whether this is real or some confusing omens now its gone. 


I have more questions, but leave it all to the mist, all you need to know is inside you already, all those swimming mystic nothings prepared you for this silence. 
I could sleep here a while and wake up a better man, I could find that place where all the best of me comes pouring out and left by the wings, read into everything.

There’s plants and creatures sing to you, tell you of their troubles, their unconscious pebbles dropped like pennies in ponds with wishes you musn’t tell.

The sun comes out to test the day that we’re all moving under it’s horizon. Remember the swans by the pond that day you pushed the park of my niece in frosty London morning, the cold was so biting and we felt so much of my childhood memories there, you keep it all inside. Push it all away, I have to make havoc for you to answer me, you’re so quiet I can’t help but to test I’m still there within you.

We say the strangest things don’t we, logic casts aside the truth for the repression of the soul, sometimes we need that to see further than the barriers of the well trodden pavements we call home. What matters most pushes through all the the battles that I must wage to win Jerusalem. 
Keep warriors at a distance when their natures start to rumble, they must rush out the cages of their unconscious and go take the prize, capture the destiny with elephants of war rearing under under a sky of fire lit arrows, spears beneath gode them with trumpeting bellows. 

I like you because you were quiet but now that silence is all too much to bear, you say nothing to take hold of me having too little to give in exasperated love, slow it down she thinks, all the little movements will mean more then, just a little at a time and you can feel the vastness of my ocean. Hold back and back and back some more, quiet outside but seas stretching distant lands within. Still waters run deep but what if they are rapids underneath. There’s a frosty reservation to you, it’s all so easy to hold back and not be loved, have silent unrequited crushes that way people can’t disappoint too much, from a distance they simply bleed out on their own, nobody needs anyone we can all live in solitary cages we call home. You believe nobody can really love a thing like you, undeserving and a thing to be used, pretty flashy seductions, make noise and there you are, blow it up and they come running from the dark, small affections crushed like bugs wash it down with slugs of disinterest, too much for me, so big and glorified, grandiose pleasure and status beyond my reach, courts bow and sway at his command, and words that sway the masses pound out rhythms by his fingertips. There’s no looking back once that paint hit the canvas a bond was made, it was sealed in the deepest reaches of ourselves, sealed in the sea of the unconscious, weather shipwrecked treasures of dissatisfied union lay buried forever or to be uncovered by another with less satisfaction but more manageable to hold and control. Tempered affection, relax and be civil that’s enough, read into words and movements of feeling that’s enough, the real thing is too much, admire from a distance that’s enough.

Gainsborough Family Albulm @ National Portrait Gallery by Laurence Fuller

In light of the recent Gainsborough exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery, I looked back at one of my father’s essays on the subject. This one first published in 1980 goes into the historic feuds and repercussions of this work that was causing rifts within the art world and British society throughout the last century. My father talks about his conflicts with other critics playing out as a way to articulate his own connection to the work, though there is a social relevance which explains ourselves in relation to this time and what it means for us today, his connection to the work was to attempt an emotional engagement with each individual painting, that was more personal and less theoretical. Though in choosing this artist in particular he is setting up a lineage for contemporary British painters to express themselves, as part of a movement that has its tendrils in tradition, as appose to the more conceptual Damien Hirst et al.

The Naked Artist: Gainsborough & Sociology, 1980

Essay by Peter Fuller - Art by Thomas Gainsborough

  Thomas Gainsborough, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, National Gallery, London

Thomas Gainsborough, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, National Gallery, London

Ten years ago, Professor Lawrence Gowing of the Slade clashed with John Berger over Gainsborough’s extraordinary early painting, Mr and Mrs Andrews. Their exchanges are documented in Berger’s Ways of Seeing. Gowing suggested that Mr and Mrs Andrews were engaged in philosophic enjoyment of ‘the great Principle . . . the genuine Light of uncorrupted and unperverted Nature.’ Berger did not deny this was possible, but he insisted the Andrews were also proud landowners at a time when a peasant could be whipped for stealing a potato. Among the pleasures the portrait gave the Andrews’ was that of seeing themselves depicted as land­owners. This pleasure, Berger argued, was enhanced ‘by the ability of oil paint to render their land in all its substantiality.’ Berger reproduced details of the Andrews’ faces. These dramatically revealed that Gainsborough had captured the proprietorial expressions of his sitters, especially the look of arrogant contempt in the woman’s eyes. Anyone who claimed the couple was taking pure, philosophic enjoyment in ‘un­perverted Nature’ was clearly deluding himself. At the time, I thought Berger had won the exchange, game, set and match. But, over the last ten years, Mr and Mrs Andrews have continued to fascinate me. And I have begun to wonder whether Berger wasn’t serving from the wrong court.

During the last decade, there have been some marvellous landscape exhibitions. In 1973, there was ‘Landscape in Britain, c. 1750-1850’ at the Tate; then came the great Turner show of 1974, and the Constable exhibition of 1976. The Tate also had a Gainsborough exhibition in 1980. In fact, this was not as well done as the others. There were too many omissions of key works. It is all very well for John Hayes, the organizer, to claim that Gainsboroughs in collections all over London comprise ‘an indispensable part of the exhibition’, but he did not give visitors a rebate on the admission charge in respect of the bus fares needed to get round his show. It would have been better if more of Gainsborough’s major works had been brought together in the same place at the same time.

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But I do not wish to labour the inadequacies of exhibition here. I am more concerned with the critical response these shows evoked. Now Berger’s comments were made before this great series began: they involved fresh and original insights. He has pointed out that his observation needed to be made ‘because the cultural history we are normally taught pretends that it is an unworthy one.’ But times change. Today, even populist critics tend to argue that the social relations purportedly manifested or denied in the subject matter of a picture can easily be transmuted into a qualitative judgement.

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For example, in 1976, Richard Cork, a weather-vane critic, argued in the Evening Standard that Constable was a bad painter because he reduced the rural poor to ‘freely applied wriggles of paint—little more than formal devices to help him compose satisfactorily.’ A year later, Cork wrote that in The Haymakers and The Reapers, Stubbs showed his willingness to deal ‘seriously, carefully and clearly with people so bucolic that their mundane character had to be dressed up by all other artists who depicted them in eighteenth century England.’ In fact, no one dressed up the peasants more than Stubbs; but since Cork could not allow that anything except a crude social naturalism directed towards the poor could lead to good painting, he just failed to see that these fine works were contrived, Arcadian compositions.

There is no shortage of such muddled argument. John Barrell has published a book, The Dark Side of the Landscape, in which Gainsborough’s later works are attacked for attempting to assimilate the image of the toiling peasant into a pastoral idyll belonging to an earlier age. All that Barrell can see in these works is ‘what the polite wished to believe about the society of the countryside and the condition of the poor, whether that wish was conscious or not. ’ And so Barrell prefers the tiresome genre painter, George Morland, to Gainsborough, and praises Morland’s ‘social and ideological independence’ and his supposed ability to produce more ‘actualized’ images of the rural poor.

Now I do not wish to tar Berger with Barrell. Indeed, it was in a review of the latter’s book that Berger asked, ‘Poussin relayed an aristocratic arcadianism, yes, but why was he a greater painter than any considered here?’ All the sociological landscape critics should be asked this. But the question, of course, must raise doubts about Berger’s own earlier comments on Gainsborough. If Poussin is so much greater a painter than Morland (as of course he is) then why was it so important to insist upon the tainted social and ideological character of the Andrews? How can that help us to appreciate or evaluate the painting?

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I do not think one can say much about the value of a painting by talking about the ideology, or social relations, of its subjects alone. Such information may be interesting, and help to set a certain context for viewing, but discussions of ideology in painting only make sense if one also asks questions about the material skills of the painter, his relationship to the pictorial tradition, and the nature of his imaginative vision.

Gainsborough’s material skills as a painter can hardly be doubted: he was a dazzling virtuoso. For example, he was a master of physiognomic expression. You can see this best in the great series of Bath society portraits he produced between 1759 and 1774. They are magnificent, not least for the look of ageing pride in the face of the Duchess of Montagu, the aimiable disdain of General James Johnston, or the pulsating sensuality of Mary, Duchess of Richmond.

But Gainsborough was the master, and indeed often the originator of other kinds of expressive skill, too. He did not just accept the pictorial conventions he inherited. His best works show a new relish for the sensuality of the medium itself, and for its capacity to be expressive through the very brush­strokes themselves of the experience of the effects of light on drapery, flesh and foliage. I know of nothing to suggest that Ann Ford was other than a conforming member of her class: but, once that has been said, why should it inhibit us from enjoying the astonishing way in which Gainsborough has captured the tumbling translucence of her lacey white dress? Anyone who prefers Morland to such things really has no business to be writing about painting.

But this is only half the story. Gainsborough was no intellectual: he read little, and his letters, though charming, are full of spelling mistakes. Yet it seems to me quite wrong to try to identify his view of man in nature with the ideologies prevalent in his day. Gainsborough’s greatness resides in the exceptional character of his vision, which, I believe, transcends its own time and remains radical for us today (whatever incidental ideological residues might also be imbedded within it.)

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Let us go back to Mr and Mrs Andrews. One reason why this is a much better painting that anything Morland ever did is because Gainsborough has used his physiognomic skills to capture the landowners’ proprietorial expressions. And what a splendid piece of painting that landscape is! Gainsborough was only twenty when he did it, yet such was his skill that after more than two centuries the landscape seems clear, fresh, bright and new.

And, the more you look at it, the more you feel that Gainsborough did not see or depict it in the way that the Andrews surveyed it. Berger says that the way the picture is made emphasizes property: yet the dominant symbol of property for any eighteenth century landowner was un­doubtedly his house. It is no accident that this can only just be glimpsed through a clump of trees. It is as if Gainsborough did not want it there at all, and, indeed, we know how, as Gainsborough’s career progressed, it became increasingly irksome to him to have to take his patrons’ point of view into account at all. Later, he was to write to a noble Lord, ‘Mr G. hopes that Lord Hardwicke will not mistake his meaning, but if his Lordship wishes to have anything tolerable of the name of Gainsborough, the subject altogether, as well as figures, etc., must be of his own brain! otherwise Lord Hardwicke will only pay for encouraging a man out of his way

This is already evident, even in his earliest paintings of aristocrats in landscape. The more you look at Mr and Mrs Andrews, the more you realize that there is a contradiction between the painting of the figures and the vision of nature. Apart from the acute (and critical) observation of facial expression, all Gainsborough’s life and energy is invested in the latter. The body of Mrs Andrews, with its tiny dangling feet, is more like that of a puppet than a person. (Gainsborough may have modelled it from a doll). The fact that she is unfinished accentuates this: in the centre of her lap, where Gainsborough (or perhaps the Andrews) intended a dead pheasant is a patch of bare canvas. This makes one feel she is not really alive: under the marvellous blue dress, there are only rods, segments, and space. Yet the landscape vibrates with life.

It is not just the figures which give rise to this sense of contradiction: so, too, does the spatial organization of the picture. The puppets do not seem to belong in this living landscape. Pictorially, they do not occupy the same space. They are displayed upon a foreground stage; only the bundles of corn, on the right, occupy the same space as they, and these appear almost like scenic props in a pantomime. Indeed, in early Gainsborough, the aristocrats never rest easily in the landscape: the picture of John Plampin of Chadacre (also in the National Gallery) is typical. He, too, is like an awkward and intrusive doll. His bottom does not even rest upon the bank on which he is supposed to be sitting . . . Thus Gainsborough expressed his sentiment (and there is no indication that it was more than that) that there was something wrong with the ‘natural’ rights these people claimed over the land.

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Critics like Barrell attack Constable for developing an unrealistic ‘romantic image of harmony with nature whereby the labourers were merged as far as possible with their surroundings, too far away from us for the questions about how contented or how ragged they were to arise.’ But this ‘romantic image of harmony’ (which transcends the given social relations of the day) provides the true source of a great landscape painter’s imaginative strength. Gainsborough too was concerned to offer an imaginative vision of the world transformed.

It was not, of course, just the existing social relations which Gainsborough transcended: he may have been schooled through the observation of nature, but that which he observed, he also imaginatively transformed. (Many of his best landscapes were in fact painted from bits and pieces of twig and stone arranged on a table in his city studio.) And it is the otherness of Gainsborough which makes him a good painter. For his ‘image of harmony’ undoubtedly drew deeply upon that inner aspiration for a complete reconciliation with others and the world, which is, I believe, a potentiality of sentiment common to all who possess human being. This potentiality lies at the root of all man’s aspirations for a better world, including socialism.

Before this time, painters had used religious or classical mythology to articulate these aspirations: with secularization, the ‘raw materials’ available to them increasingly became perception, and the material processes of painting itself. Gainsborough certainly made use of these. Nonetheless, it is no accident that one of his very finest paintings is in fact a classical scene: Diana and Actaeon, in which the naked figures among the water and woods, are painted with a loving lightness of touch. The picture looks back to Poussin, and forward to those dazzling late Cezannes, in which, through his painterly forms, he articulated a new vision of man in nature. Diana and Actaeon embodies many of those qualities which I think make the pursuit of painting, and the quest of the aesthetic dimension worthwhile. And yet there isn’t an ‘actualized’ peasant in sight...

Burne-Jones @ The TATE & The Last Romantics by Laurence Fuller

The latest Edward Burne-Jones exhibition at the TATE reminded me of my father’s review of The Last Romantics exhibition in the 90s, at the start of the Pre-Raphaelite revival of which he was a leading voice.

The debate with Waldemar Januszczak is particularly funny and enlightening.

THE LAST ROMANTICS

Essay by Peter Fuller - Art by Burne-Jones & Stanley Spencer

The exhibition, The Last Romantics: The Romantic Tradition in British Art, Burne-Jones to Stanley Spencer, at the Barbican Gallery in April 1989, added fuel to debates which have been simmering about the clash between Romanticism and Modernism, between 'national tradition' and 'internationalism', and between 'populism' and the 'avant-garde'. The argument which informed the exhibition was that Pre-Raphaelitism was not, as had so often previously been assumed, a cul-de-sac. On the contrary, John Christian, who brought together more than 300 works for the show, wished to demonstrate that even after the death of Burne-Jones in 1898, a Romantic tradition, deriving from Pre-Raphaelitism, persisted here, and gave rise to a great diversity of twentieth-century painting and sculpture.

Christian argued that this exhibition fills in the gap between the point where The Pre-Raphaelites, at the Tate Gallery in 1985, left off and the rise of Romanticism at the time of the second world war, as chronicled in the 1987 Barbican show, A Paradise Lost: the Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain, 1935-1955. This amounts to more than a matter of academic art history. Christian sought to demonstrate that a Romantic tradition has been continuous in Britain, and that it persisted through the period when the Modern movement was supposed to have overthrown, or at least displaced it. What makes all this peculiarly urgent is the resurgence of a Romantic sensibility in painting in the 1980s, and the re-emergence of interest in Romantic, as opposed to Modernist, critical approaches.

The hostility of the protagonists of the Modern movement to Romanticism in general and to Pre-Raphaelitism in particular, is legendary. Christian quotes George Moore, the champion of Impressionism and the New English Art Club, who described Burne-Jones as 'the worst artist that ever lived, whether you regard him as a colourist, a draughtsman, a painter or a designer'. This view was reiterated by Bloomsbury, for whom opposition to Pre-Raphaelitism was de rigueur. Clive Bell, notoriously, swept all Pre-Raphaelitism aside, declaring it was of 'utter insignificance in the history of European culture'.

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In the 1920s, a derisory view of Romanticism in general, and of Pre-Raphaelitism in particular, became part of received opinion in 'progressive' artistic circles. (Late Turner remained virtually unknown; Constable was praised as the forerunner of Impressionism!) Clive Bell's son, Quentin Bell, has described how between 1900 and 1940, no one thought the Pre- Raphaelites were worth attending to, and so no serious historical studies of them were published.

All this changed with the rise of Neo-Romanticism in the late 1930s and 1940s, and the recovery of the Romantic sensibility by painters like John Piper and critics like Robin Ironside, who wrote, so vividly, about 'a reaction from the ideas of Roger Fry, a return to freedom of attitude more easily acceptable to the temper of our culture, a freedom of attitude that might acquiesce in the inconsistencies of Ruskin but could not flourish under the system of Fry'.

Ironside was largely responsible for the re-awakening of 'serious' interest in Burne-Jones - without which John Christian's work would never have been possible. Together with John Gere, Ironside also compiled the Phaidon Press volume, Pre-Raphaelite Painters, which appeared in 1948, on the centenary of the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This book marked the beginning of the end of twentieth- century obscurity for the Pre-Raphaelites. One of the more singular features of contemporary cultural life since the second world war has been the seemingly unbounded efflorescence of interest in Romantic painting (vide the return of Francis Danby), and specifically in Pre-Raphaelitism among a large section of the public interested in the visual arts.

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And yet advanced 'Modernist' opinion has remained sceptical and unconvinced. In 1944, Clement Greenberg, the architect of the new formalist criticism in the USA, wrote dis- missively about the latest 'romantic revival' in painting and poetry, in both Britain and America. Opposition to Romanticism was a central plank of his early position. Greenberg wrote that the new interest in, as he called it, 'Pre- Raphaelism', and the literary aspects of painting, stood historical Romanticism on its head. For this new Romanticism

does not revolt against authority and constraints, but tries to establish a new version of security and order. The 'imagination' it favors seems conservative and constant as against the 'reason' it opposes, which is restless, disturbing, ever locked in struggles with the problematical. 'Reason' leads to convictions, activity, politics, adventure; 'imagination' to sentiment, pleasure and certainties. The new 'Romanticism' gives up experiment and the assimilation of new experience in the hope of bringing art back to society, which has itself been 'romantic' for quite a while in its hunger for immediate emotion and familiar forms. A nostalgia is felt for a harmony which can be found only in the past and which the very technical achievements of past art seem to assume.

This sort of view has persisted. Quentin Bell has described how, even in the late 1960s, he had great difficulty in persuading his colleagues and his students of the validity of his interest in the Pre-Raphaelite movement; and only three years ago, John Berger - as it happens disingenuously - asserted the reason he had broken off relations with me was because of my interest in Pre-Raphaelitism.

These sorts of unquestioning, fashionable Modernist views were entrenched in, say, the rhetoric which surrounded the exhibition British Art in the 20th Century: the Modern Movement, which was held at the Royal Academy in 1987. It is that rhetoric which John Christian was determined to challenge. 'Old ideas,' he writes, 'die hard, as we saw in the exhibition ... at the Royal Academy in 1987. Here again, with the single exception of Eric Gill, there was no overlap with our exhibition other than in the Slade area.'

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So did Christian succeed in offering an alternative view of British art to that provided by Norman Rosenthal and his colleagues at the Academy? On the surface, the answer to that must be a resounding 'no'. Christian is, of course, a scholar of Burne-Jones, and was responsible for an exemplary exhibition of Burne-Jones's work at the Hayward Gallery in 1975. It was therefore disappointing to discover that Burne-Jones himself was so poorly represented in the Barbican show - Vespertina Quies is hardly the masterpiece of his later years. Minor, and less than minor, works by Burne-Jones's followers and studio assistants were also allowed to proliferate. The Last Romantics was cluttered with Birmingham Pre-Raphaelites; academic revivalists of Pre-Raphaelite genres, like Frank Dicksee and John Waterhouse; fey fairy painters; Viennese-inspired pictures by Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon; illustrators of the Celtic fringe; and even with neo-classicists, from the British School in Rome in the 1920s.

When all is said and done, there was but one room of outstanding paintings and drawings in the show, namely by those painters whom Christian calls 'Slade School Symbolists', that is, artists who studied at the Slade just before the first world war, like Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Mark Gertler and David Bomberg. As Christian himself points out, these painters also featured prominently in the Royal Academy exhibition, where they were rightly and powerfully presented as among the century's greatest British artists.

And so, it must be admitted that the Barbican exhibition presented us with very little of real stature which had not also been represented in the Academy show. But the Academy exhibition also contained more than its share of phoney nonsense - especially in the rooms chronicling art from the 1950s to the present day. I would argue that, say, Richard Hamilton's Towards a definitive statement on the coming trends in men's wear and accessories (c) Adonis in Y-fronts, 1962, is, roughly speaking, the 1960s equivalent of John William Waterhouse's slick and facile, Echo and Narcissus, 1903, included as an academic Pre-Raphaelite picture in Christian's show. (In fact, I much prefer the Waterhouse to the Hamilton. Seen 'in the flesh', Waterhouse's painting demonstrates verve and immediacy. Hamilton's necrophiliac touch and techniques always snuff out every semblance of life.)

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Or take Stuart Brisley's Survival in Alien Circumstances, 1977- 81. To my mind, this silly and sentimental work - pv 'tographs of the two weeks Brisley spent splashing about masochistically in the water at the bottom of a deep hole - is the contemporary equivalent of, say, Herbert Draper's set-piece, The Golden Fleece, which shows Jason in mortal peril on the high seas. Brisley and Draper are both institutional artists who have made use of fashionable techniques to trigger spurious emotions. Similarly, Gilbert and George's Wanker, Prick Ass and Bummed of 1977, can be compared, in their vacuity and vulgarity of feeling, to Frank Dicksee's Chivalry, which shows a knight, literally in shining armour, about to rescue a distressed maiden tied to a tree, in delectable disarray.

My point is that objections which Greenberg addressed to 'romantic' art in the 1940s, now apply much more aptly to Modernist art, the institutional art of our own time. Today, of course, it is Modernism which has given up 'the assimilation of new experience in the hope of bringing art back to society', which, we might add, has itself been 'modern' for quite a while in its hunger for immediate emotion and familiar forms.

The second, and to my mind more important point that needs making about the Academy show is that, the breathy rhetoric of the catalogue notwithstanding, much of the work on exhibition there in fact owed little to the Modern movement. To be more exact, many of the outstanding British artists of this century have simply incorporated elements of international Modernism into their work as a way of furthering their Romantic concerns. Some have not even bothered to do that.

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Take the case of Stanley Spencer who was represented at the Academy by six paintings, and at the Barbican by two. At least one of the latter, Zacharias and Elizabeth, 1914, is, in my view, a masterpiece. And yet everything about it involves an appeal, over the heads of both the academic Pre-Raphaelites and the insipid followers of Burne-Jones, to the attitudes of mind of Pre-Raphaelite painting in the mid-nineteenth century. Spencer was everything that - according to the Modernists - the twentieth-century artist ought not to be, and yet he was undoubtedly one of the greatest British artists of the twentieth century; far greater, I believe, than Francis Bacon. Spencer was narrow-minded and provincial; a man of biblical, rather than scientific vision; concerned with the past, rather than the future (which he conceived in terms of a second coming); an enemy of industrialisation, indeed of almost everything about the modern world. Spencer looked at nature with the intensity and longing of one who believed that he could find God there. [See plate 9b.]

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Now one could say that such attitudes were what Fry and Bell sought to dismiss when they castigated Pre-Raphaelitism. (Although their antipathy to Englishness was perhaps stronger than their affiliation to Modernism, which was one reason why they responded to a thorough-going French Symbolist painter like Gauguin.) Fry could not, however, dismiss Spencer: he had too sharp an eye for that. He included him in the first Post- Impressionist exhibition.

For many Modernists who came after, one way of dealing with Spencer was to argue that he was 'unique' - a freak if not of nature, then of cultural life, who stood outside the laws of his time. But John Christian shows this just was not true. Spencer belonged to a tradition, a Romantic and Pre-Raphaelite tradition - an English 'Post-Impressionism'.

As I try to argue in my book, Theoria, what was true of Spencer was true of a remarkable number of our greatest contemporary artists. Certainly, many of them recognised the pictorial failures of Pre-Raphaelitism, but they admired the desire of the Pre- Raphaelites, and of Turner before them, to paint pictures which were rooted in an imaginative and spiritual response to the world of nature.

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Paul Nash, for example, begins with an admiration for Rossetti. The experience of the 'godless' landscapes of the first and second world wars reunites him with the earlier and tougher vision of Holman Hunt's Scapegoat and paves the way to his own luminous last landscapes, surely some of the greatest Romantic paintings since Palmer. Similarly, as I have argued at length elsewhere, Bomberg's search for 'the spirit in the mass', or Henry Moore's sculptural preoccupations, stand in direct and undeniable continuity with the aesthetic concerns of the nineteenth century. Both realised that the imaginative world of the arts necessitated, at the very least, a 'suspension of disbelief'. Whatever philosophy they may otherwise have espoused in the real world, in the illusory spaces of their art, these artists were vitalists rather than materialists. They were motivated by the desire to see beyond appearances, to depict the spiritual essences of things.

Greenberg had a sharper eye and a much finer critical mind than either his acolytes or his critics, and yet it seems to me that he was wrong on the most fundamental issue of all, when he argued that 'the highest aesthetic sensibility rests on the same basic assumptions ... as to the nature of reality as does the "advanced" thinking contemporaneous with it'.

In Britain in the twentieth century our greatest artists have invariably shown a refusal of modernity, an unashamed preference for an older, romantic and spiritual tradition. This was also indubitably true of much of the best French painting, especially after Impressionism. (I write this as someone who himself remains an atheist and a materialist.)

John Christian's show fell apart because he included so much empty and academic work in which the high ideals of the Romantic movement were replaced by slickness, commercialism, or imaginative ineptness. He also omitted much of real stature. Why, for example, were there no paintings by G. F. Watts, at his best a great, and unjustly neglected artist, whose work foreshadowed so much of what is best in the British achievement in the twentieth century?

Exactly the same criticisms can be raised against Norman Rosenthal and his colleagues at the Royal Academy. They, too, misunderstood the nature of the tradition with which they were dealing. Neither Christian nor Rosenthal have Baudelaire's understanding of what it was that made British art unique both in the last century, and, I believe, in our own. (Can it be an accident that both overlooked the work of Cecil Collins which was, I felt, triumphantly vindicated at his retrospective exhibition at the Tate, in May 1989?) In 1859, Baudelaire regretted the absence of a long list of British artists from the French salon, describing them as 'enthusiastic representatives of the imagination and of the most precious faculties of the soul'. Once, British art seemed hopelessly inferior to that of France. Yet, today, the British school is probably the liveliest and most creative in the world and French painting is nowhere.

1989

The Angels Crescendo - Matt Wedel @ LA Louver “Everything Is Everything” by Laurence Fuller

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Bely that jolly blue eyed mistress, she with reverence to the hero flickering on the screen with big brothers heavy arms sees that dark force in me and begins to push down on my chest to purge it out. Scour my guts out of the fish heads and dried out beef that lingered in there heavy wrenching mornings and evening see me sleeping in confusion.

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Walk me through those cinema doors and sit me down to watch through cameras capturing projected back onto screens every flicker of the soul, love blessed personal gaze of all my connected truth and memories of expansive legacies of the soul.


My eyes closed and that dream collapsed appearing in a melting forest all around branches fold over and in on themselves, like colliding faucets blending hands shoved through the strings of a broken instrument, the psychological icons that grow from the mind to the jungle of man make sprouting hemlocks.

Need the grass punching knuckles in the mud, digging drippy toes, mask the wrenching buttons of precious hearts and souls in every ornamental fauna. Heave beautiful muck at the heroes distempered. I wish for only phosphorescence I love the light pouring in the windows of crowded contemplation touching the tips of distorted endings drying leaves leaving branches naked in despare. I walk away from strange creatures that pour poison into wine and believe that I should drink it.

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Bounding giant mythic heads melt in color collapsing rhythms, trotting in like giants in the rain, faces express what they see with a myriad of senses then forget it was ever there. As ringing chimes bless every step, gold and dust drifts and floats, shimmer the air, sticky plants covered in lucky mist glow in the reflection of this angel. Everything rebuilds in a kilter and the world reconvenes itself around this incredible presence.

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She waltzes the forest to the crescendo of philosophy on the sky waving teary goodbyes, I walk on through the discontented jungle towards the lesser days of youth gone by, I see there all I watched and built up hope in my mind. Stripped of bark to merry meats the flashing gems of worship.

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Tumbling, cascading in descent clay leaves described in Lapine luxury, melt and decay with the dark buzzing blue music of the night.

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There she speaks in open prayer:

“Create for those present in your life, the ones who show up, bring bounty, joy, laughter and inspire passions. Those withholding live in closets of disappointment, as they watch wide eyed through key holes of underwhelming, the distant shores of brilliance unfold. True valiance comes when open hearts bursting with courage make life worth living.”

 

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Watch me dalliance that noose around my neck cut loose and I with happy handed chisels carve my own destiny to the muse.

Augury by Laurence Fuller

Art by Enrique Martinez Celaya - Poem by Laurence Fuller

 The Sword - by Enrique Martinez Celaya

The Sword - by Enrique Martinez Celaya

A word, a single word, it lands on the heart of the boy like the omen of his life. It’s sound shudders through the blade, it rings through the metal heat powered up to the scolding time of a blazing clutch double gripped. Self reliance; defy the authorities of the day that comply until favorite chance and time of life delays.


Reaching out to the void for an unknown spontaneous thought to manifest our deep longing to solution pain.


Though regaining a sense of who we are without all that strange discomfort, therein is the essence of self, and throwing a javeline in the dark like an ancient hunter in the night to spike. To make the tribe proud lead with hands out only baring gifts. Show that golden pools that art is an eternal gift to humankind and to yourself. Each piece is an act of love. The deeper one’s connection to the work, the more it will mean to someone else.

 The Other World by Enrique Martinez Celaya

The Other World by Enrique Martinez Celaya


This sword cast glowing red from the fire of indulgence that bled from the embers of delicious sticky surrender. There when the calling of that great will that ferocious passion that fires the morning to the dawn. Night flushes out the madness of the day. Staring deep into that fiery reflection. There boy is your omen, this the will of all mankind, to the crusade of all we see.

 The Fiery Wound - by Enrique Martinez Celaya

The Fiery Wound - by Enrique Martinez Celaya


Art must come from life, not art about art. The smallest moments in life are the greatest represented and remembered through the soul.


Hear that touch from the father, cherish the perpetual pulse from the earth’s core that burden of the best this life has to offer, the happy few on the mountain tops of man there in that discomfort where the baddest of them roam.


Omens posses his stance in the suredness of knowing. It was the voice not of a King but of a prophet that pierced the sharp silence in the farrier’s atelier.


It spoke to the indefinite moment there with the real artist guided by his own enforcing legacy on himself seeks the fortune of the future beckoning the heart, the trust, the guild, the will, there for the pilgrimage of the statement back scratched and open eyed yet lying blind, humming lyrics in auspice, he hears the tutor falling back on their knowledge of the past known events of already digested cliches, recedes to speech. There and only there can they speak, they look back to stay back, but the prophet uses the past to move forward. And so, the word falls in front of them and it’s guidance only means for others to follow them and there within the walls of an enclosed and comforting place in the hypothetical. To teach, one day, if lucky, one noble heart.


And to that opinion we take solace in our action, the artist makes real what the educator cannot. The artist manifests in all direction the objects of their desire, chalices of fortune.

 

That word - Augury


Anselm Kiefer @ White Cube - The Fortune by Laurence Fuller

Artwork by Anselm Kiefer - Poem by Laurence Fuller

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Ruins of an ancient pilgrimage reverberate in fields of rusted sunflowers creaking up the air below my pedaling feet. Floating forward my tires move with slow cranks, the sound rings out across the field of fallen tribal warriors. History passes in fragments of my DNA, like the biographies of the masses written in rusted metal wires in my blood. Tires touch the ground, digging in the earth, we come to a stop. Dirt sputters as I stand on the levers to propel me nowhere. Impatience gathers in my heels as I push and push and deeper it concealed my modest chariot to the earth. 

Cold gravel crushing down around my muddy boots here I have found in this land a place for the broken mercenary to roam.

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Piled up bodies like the remnants of great battles hanging off hardened stalks, I walk with those fallen, their gravestone solid in our bodies buried in our hearts there we are, tokens of time past I dropped into the casket and took away with me the knife that strapped across my chest. Into the wilderness I cut bear pelts down from the forest of my mind to cover what I felt and move with honor. I’ll drag my bleeding body through it all to see once more that face of destiny, my child is wrapped up in clay mountains on distant shores. My family divided and my home displaced. My journey ahead is for the will, I’ll leave this bag of skin, this bone dried flask, this ragged book, ditch the pages of sentiment, it’s all in me now, I carry it bare skin, I walk with those fallen. 

Appearing like the mark of time manifested in the earth a small bomber plane, crashed and lying in the rocks and clumps of earth it shifted on it’s journey from sky to ground. The divots in the roof rafters, cuts through the rough cement, gashes in steel fevering their threads in the mesh of discomfort, the sun blasts through it all. Memories of heroes carved out on the walls and hardened in plane site, the metal scraps rusted total vigor on this pendulum. Junk yard of barbarians and knights coated in lead armor marching through the past, their conquests guided by their will to power.

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Cement spiritual wasteland surround in towering blocks of mishapen lookouts where those whose eyes and ears are more beneficial to the kings than their metal which they left bankrupted on shoes of other stronger men. Hair bristling from my skin tangles in the weeds of my self possession I’m locked into a deep moss of twisted overlapping sprints towards the cycle of my masculinity. I clamber through thorny passages of brutal love. Wrenching upward tears my muscles on the forward thrusts towards the air. I am a taboo to love, hot swilling blood slides down vines and down my body, over my stomach conditioned by the jabs of war. It’s licked up my legs by the writhing harem who clutch and pull at the hair on my legs to climb their way just to the centre of that small piece of power they wish to obtain for themselves. Coated in blood and lust I lay. They clutch their plunder and I’m solitary staring up at the glassy sky for answers.

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I’m here again my tortured friend, pulled bones from my flesh again and I have less structure to myself more fleshy mess of inconclusion, all I thought I had was gone and not enough to hold up the muscle. Too pulled along by fleeting fragments, too easily snagged by quick ideas, too relaxed and entertained, a quiet comfort ticks away the days and weeks, a little here and there is enough, enough to satisfy the discontent within me until the next happy time when I can dominate the landscape. 

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The will does not come. Something else. Their voices reach me. My ancestors talk to me down passages underground, they’re calling in the night for something more, summoning a greater calling from the gurgling of my guts. That vibrating romantic roar of the graves of many powerful voices, greatness ringing in the halls of mankind. Blistering, beating drums, lying blind staring up at the sky, my eyes had been ripped out by the vultures of my unconscious anger. Solitude made me a better man, I found comfort in my dusty nature. I torched myself in the abyss of pleasure and conquest, gathered gold and looted hearts for what I could pillage from the beautiful. I blinded the wolves that stalked my mind and I ate her spirit with the God of war in me as she moved chess pieces with that hubris to the check mate of our days. 

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I turn over on my belly and begin to dig, my hands slapped the mud in succession of each beat I pelted the ground to answer the call of my ancestors. Gathering the earth between my fingers ripping the grass which grew in the way of my destiny. 

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The plough and the sword lay buried barely visable through cement blocks, sealed over in ruins of new constructions, carved out by hammer and sickle, whose now dulled blunt edges lay by their side. I kept digging.

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Gold bent over itself, twisted shiny jewels spike out from the crater forming around my body. It was the Monarch’s symbol of rule that now bent and brittle from the weight of time, stopping in a moment of distant admiration to take in that chorus of divine blood manifest in precious treasures.

For now I am a secret amongst those triumphant, they whisper my name amongst hollow chambers of locked down repeated dusty hallways of castigated power. Crusted over by their tomb of certainty they remain. 

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Sediments of thought, they’re cast there in cement and metal, stapeled to the oil, washing in a million years of dinosaur bones, slick poured over the graves of buried soldiers scrubbed back to reveal the medals of fallen glory on the waistcoats of angels. 

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I cannot touch it anymore this material spirit, it’s outside off me now, it’s pasted on canvases and crows feet. The plough, the corn, the rocks and stalks of time. Cracked terra-cotta pots had no chance under the weight of history.

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That garden of dried out hardened stalks that grow, past that plough and sword from another journey that did not cross my own.  I dig further to find a garden underground, a river runs under its top layer, washing rocks and mud and roots.

Pen and brush, typewriter smudged paint fingerprints, lead keys pressing down, tapping out manuscripts of the future. Shattered stain glass window fragments, Snt Peter lies in scattered pieces under rushing holy waters.

Forgiveness is in that incessant grasping at the water which runs inevitably through unclenched fingers of desire.

Oil crema that swills with diamonds, gold, desire covert, for the blood of possession. This here we share, this here for the blood and oil of our tribe, we run by our connection to eachother, we run by muddy footprints in the echoing cave. We run to new shores of victory. The river of a man before guided by his premonition.

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Following the echoes of that tapping I journey out towards the shining entrance of the cave filling the tunnels with a white glow, bending sharp whistling fluttering pages of a manuscript I half wrote not too long ago, filled with passed down stories of all those lives that came before.

Ice fields of glistening melting rocks, flakes of dripping shining beauty water fields. Flowing blubber, that river of penultimate reality uncovers the vast waterfalls of man’s reason tumbling concept over structure into the oceans moving with a single body.

Crustaceans growing on its belly, the soulful beast moved through the water, fountains of fundamental liquid pouring from its spout. Plankton in many millions filtered through brushing teeth caught steady on the bow of its eternal head. 

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There I stood before the water’s edge, my self possession rests on all I once knew. I float those pages on the waters of salt washed swill.

Assured by the constance of my journey for it to be within my grasp, I plant the seeds of the past but through that frozen wasteland where whales dance in the harmony with the sea, in the ice sapling grow pushing small and pure through agitated slush that washed like snow over many decades of antiquated dreams. Step out into bright ice landscape melting yet barely hardened the whaling whales in unison, the giants of the soul. 

That pace I now set to my own accord, writes with every step a new chapter in the fortune.

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Finding The Muse At Don Bachardy's Studio by Laurence Fuller

Nathaniel Quinn Filmmaker ran at Highways Performance Space as a theatre piece August 31st - September 9th 2018, and is now in development as a feature film.

“The ensemble of actors, many of whom play multiple roles, all seem passionate & committed to the material. Hughes’ Quinn is a soft, introspective pleasure in the center of it all, embodying the fragility of the character perfectly while allowing the other actors to shine against the foil he provides them. Laurence Fuller (as Jason), Rebekah Brandes (as his girlfriend Miranda), Rex Lee (as his agent), & Greg Ainsworth as Quinn’s husband, are standouts in a cast that acquits itself admirably” LA Blade

It began two years ago at a gritty indie film festival called Dances With Films, “Road To The Well” was premiering and I wanted to see as much of the other films screening as I could. One full house a clean black and white image flickered on the screen, the title crossed the image “Guys Reading Poems”, what followed was a clean slick wholly original new piece of cinema, with integrity, complexity and lots of vision. It starred many accomplished and talented actors, at the helm was a man called Hunter Lee Hughes.

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Meeting him afterwards Hunter’s quiet unassuming and sophisticated demeanor, had a kind of sitting back at first and watching things unfold, planning the course of action. A quiet observer, calmly waiting for that wildness that might come into his life and take hold of his heart with inspiration. A steadily flowing river spoke behind his piercing eyes.

After a couple years of conversing with Hunter and attending his acting class at one point, he sent me a script, asking me to read one of the title characters Jason at a reading he was hosting at his house. Blake was there, the producer and a few other people who ended up in the ultimate cast. The reading was all said and done a success, it was mostly cold read, but I was familiar as were most, I felt it went well and if things went forward then I’d be there. A couple weeks later, Hunter told me the production was on, but I had to audition. It turned out the producer Bradley Bernstein was not so familiar with my work at the time and wanted to see more. It was a fair request, and I felt I had nothing to loose at the time, so I just let it rip on the scene about loosing oneself in the process of auditioning.

 Hunter Lee Hughes and Laurence Fuller

Hunter Lee Hughes and Laurence Fuller

Soon after Hunter sent me an email saying:

“Your audition today not only ranks the best I saw today, but among the best I've ever seen. Throughout the session, I saw a man fighting for his own integrity as an actor, then transcending even that into a more primal struggle that was gripping, unpredictable and deeply moving. There's no doubt: the part of Jason Quinn is yours if you want it. There's also no doubt that, should you decide to join our production, that the nature of this work will make our journey difficult and tense and vulnerable at times, on both sides. In a way, I felt guilty for you to go through the process that happened over these last weeks. But - in the end - the result produced was extraordinary. I'm sure there will be more tense, awkward and difficult moments. But if you agree to be part of this, we now fight together to bring to the stage the primal conflicts of the artist's life that are being ignored by others because it's unseemly and too vulnerable to admit that truth, both in terms of the "press release" aspect of a career in the arts and the soft-hearted sentimentality  underneath it all: we desperately need to feel important, we desperately need to love and be loved. I think it will be a very worthwhile battle.
I know that - in terms of material rewards and career advancement - we don't have very much to offer. Your career is on the ascent no matter what, clearly. However, I do believe in my heart that Jason Quinn could be a quintessential part and turning point in your career as an artist. It's a part that has the potential to be a story to an official biographer down the line as a surprising moment when your powers came together in a very satisfying and life-altering way. There is something undeniable in you that the part provokes that only a very dense observer could miss. There may be a sadness in knowing that such a good part for you may not be widely seen - 120 seats at Highways Performance Space - but I feel that tackling him will somehow profoundly serve you. But, then again, I am very biased as I badly want you to play the role.”

How could any actor say no to that?

 Rebekah Brandes and Laurence Fuller

Rebekah Brandes and Laurence Fuller

There’s a lot in this piece about the gritty realities of making ones way in the film industry, what life is like to climb the ranks of a leading man in LA. Some things I certainly related to, the dichotomy of compromise that happens, to take an experimental theatre piece for a 49 seat theatre or to put such lofty notions aside and pursue the big budget projects. Clearly I haven’t put my ideal aside yet, I still believe in the art form and that all things will grow from quality. Rex Lee played my agent and once upon a time I did have a rep that was very similar to this guy, very by the book in terms of his business.

 Rex Lee and Daniel Berilla

Rex Lee and Daniel Berilla

Ultimately this piece was about true love transcending circumstance. As a heterosexual man it was a really interesting to see the human being, beyond notions of identity. There was a huge amount of love within the cast and crew, we were like a family. I had missed doing theatre so much by that point, it was not since London I had the opportunity to tread the boards, I’d been so busy pursuing film in LA and it’s so rare for the stars to align for theatre out here. But this was just the perfect coming together of circumstances the right script, right director, role and team behind it. That spirit of collaboration that fed into a common goal of telling this story about love it was a fully realized emotional experience and I was at a perfect point in my life to tell this story.

As I read the script more, I realized it dealt with the nature of the muse, finding inspiration to create in another, some external force you want to make the world for. I was used to the notions between man and a woman, but this was the first story I’d told where it was between two men. I found there ultimately wasn’t much difference.

 Hunter Lee Hughes and Laurence Fuller

Hunter Lee Hughes and Laurence Fuller

Of course all these elements to the story lead us to Don Bachardy’s house. Hunter was Don’s old friend, when he was 20 Hunter had posed for Don in a series of nude portraits, the artist was quite famous for his portraiture and for evocative selections of the male nude. Most apparent in Don’s personality were the impressions made by the now ghost of his former lover Christopher Isherwood, the two had shared a long life together in that house in the Palasades and as he talked it was almost as if we were expecting Christopher to walk around the corner, his name was brought back with every sentence and subject that passed our lips. The love was so deep he still spoke to us from within Don. They were eachother’s lifelong muses, inspired great works of literature and an oveur of a lifetime of paintings and drawings. They challenged each other constantly. There are numerous documentaries about their love, the two became gay icons on the art and literary scene in California, close friends to the likes of Truman Capote, W.H. Auden and Tennessee Williams. Christopher’s book “A Single Man” was later turned into an Oscar nominated film by Tom Ford.

I asked Don if it ever caused rifts between them to be so direct about eachothers creative works and he laughed in that uproarious way and said “oh yes, of course, there were days and sometimes week we didn’t speak because we were pouting about something... mostly me”. Christopher had pulled out of Don the young artist that was latent inside him before he had even decided what his life would be. 

The history of their life together was evident even on the walls as we walked around they were covered in paintings and photographs by LA artists, many of them I didn’t recognize but could see the quality and personal touches which made for authentic pieces. I whispered to Hunter he must know all these artists because the only one I recognize is David Hockney. 

 Don Bachardy and in his iconic livingroom in LA

Don Bachardy and in his iconic livingroom in LA

  Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy , David Hockney, 1968

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, David Hockney, 1968

“Why shouldn’t somebody else have my image, what am I going to do with it?” Don chuckled as we spoke about the iconic Hockney portrait, that captured the very living room we were sitting in.
Yesterday Hunter took me to the artist Don Bachardy’s Studio to select the right painting to feature in the play “Nathaniel Quinn Filmmaker”, which goes up August 31st at Highway’s Performance Space in Santa Monica.

  Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy , David Hockney, 1979

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, David Hockney, 1979

David Hockney kept popping out from the walls. It was only after about an hour sitting in that living room did I realize where I was sitting, it was from Hockney’s iconic portrait of Don and Christopher. The older pulled the young artist out of his skin and allowed him to flourish, developing his personality and his unique abilities. There was a joy and a deep sadness which came over him as he talked about Christopher’s sense of humor and his firmness. I was personally very intrigued to hear how much they informed each other’s work. Their openness to collaboration and pushing eachother in their work was inspiring to hear and admired their courage for doing so. It gave me hope that two artist could become that close and that true love was possible in that way.

As I watched the two look over these portraits of Hunter I realized that there was a real love between them, that Hunter had been absorbed by Don and reimagined. Don’s loving embrace of Hunter and his affection for him was clear as he stated quite frankly that it was one of the most satisfying subject relationships he'd ever had. 

All this translated back into the piece, I dug deep to find the muse most powerful for me at the time, and it cracked me open. I had to loose that love in my real life to regain it from Hunter and the connection we shared on stage was one of the most powerful I’ve had with any actor.

My character Jason tries to make Nathaniel fall in love with him, in order to inspire the muse within him and to create a film. It was very spot on in its revealing of human motivations in the arts. I used to create with ambition as a younger man, now its so much easier to create for love, the work becomes more open, especially in its more passionate moments that fuel of love is infinite, where the selfish drive dies out. This piece was about true love transcending circumstance.

There was a preshow at the beginning of each performance, Jason is working out a poem he calls “The One By The River” as with so many aspects of this piece it was art imitating life as at the time I was writing a poem called “Minotaur’s Song” about the minotaur growing up by the riverbanks of Elysium. Hunter let me read out sections of the poem during the show:

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There have been very few true muses I’ve found really cracked me open in my life some have passed, the ghost of my father inspired me for years to finish a screenplay about his life, some directors like Simon Evans, Paul T. Murray, Jon Cvack and Hunter and various family members tend to hit me in a raw place emotionally. I felt cracked open by the muse I used this time around and needed to regain that love from Nathaniel on stage. 

To be an actor we give over feelings reserved for those closest to us to the crowds of unknown faces in the dark, they breathe our love, desires and fears, they soak us in and what we’re left with in private is a beginning, each day we begin again, begin to understand something of ourselves again, begin to understand that great triumph of love that escalades within, there it can only be, all else falls on destiny.

Body Chess by Laurence Fuller

Artwork by Heidi Yardley - Poem by Laurence Fuller

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Notebooks of a self I used to be, exultations of a person I no longer recognize. Near misses running between past lives, I adore you before the door closed and you were gone that night. Drifting spirit of Nordic dreams, I saw you in the background of the life I could be living if I gave myself the chance. You don’t trust me and why should you, but it seems we’ve been speaking inside each other for years.

What were you doing with her that dark primal wicked essence, carnal desire that’s not like you, gentry bow courtiers of the past, line up and bow by ghost light, not just one, but many bow after you. I should be standing there beside you when the cameras flash. I have gemstones of the mind beside you see me calling out to you, rest in my arms and talk of violent love we won’t scratch each other with, just play games of unrequited possession.

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Drowning in bathtubs of hot red wine, sinking in luxury. She lay awake in disruptive questioning the integrity of all this promise that she had, for you there was a young hope to be a part of savage chess games in the dark.

Trying to put my bad days behind but you pull it out of me. There in that bliss divide, silence waits us both out, silent tone reaching labyrinth rocks, I’d give you what you want if you let me, so closed off to the impossibility that I might not be playing chess tonight, am I suppose to second guess the gossip you might tell your friends? 

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He forced her against the bedframe her mother bought her last year, pressed her face into the plush goose feathered pillows. She flashed her eyes and said it’s ok, I changed the sheets. Laughter was all he managed to muster, as he sunk into pools of wrought expression, he spilled over the sides of himself as he hung in the balance of wanting to crack that awful demon and just hang in the dire nature of its silence. She turned over now with antique patterns bleeding down her skin, marked with tradition and tightened by the wrenching tools of a carpenter her grandfather knew. Don’t come too close unless you mean it, I can’t take another drifter in, I’m done with boys. Come back a man and I’ll let you in. 

I want to crack that egg over the bullish redesign that fired up that fuckers discontent, punish him for forceful love he didn’t earn, couldn’t charm and let pushed his forceful nature do the work. Just one poor girl bore the weight of all his ventures. 

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I want to meet him where he’s at and in perfect harmony we are together now. She knew who I was before I met you, reputation is inescapable. Now I’m present in conversations I had no idea about and so were you. I told her about you too, she tries to hold me down so she saw it as a challenge, don’t expect her to wait with open arms for your arrival. 

I knew I was interested in you from the day I met you, we were pulled by circumstance to two very different beds that night, all these rules and regulations, hold us back with hesitation. The heart led you to destruction before, you opened up and he was gone, just wanted the chase and once he got his prey onto some new pursuit, some new fancy, keep them at bay just enough.

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Let me in that abstract darkness you crumpled over with comfort in shades of antique furnishings, your grandmothers ring that never comes off leaves an indentation round your fingers. Her ghost sits in stiff dark corners watching that fabric pulled over your expressions, hiding the real you for someone with an honest gaze, give me reassurance this is right, that silence waits for you to speak, not me. That silence in the slight reflections of us on glazed wooden floors that creak with our own substantial movements. 

You think you want some young bad man to pull around, but there’s more to you than badly written magazines of other people’s regurgitated words. Get away from the window, the outside world slaps checkered maps against glass pains for us to navigate. I’ll protect you, stay here I’ll hold open the back door let the cotton moths out.

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Wicked looks and I’m suppose to know what it means, pretend to be someone else and I’m suppose to see the real you beneath. I suppose I am the same, I talk of danger and discomfort because I want you lying next to me. I’m striped blank and backlit, painting my face better in the dark.


Who are you lying graceful on my couch, heavy breathing, part lips brushing up against the side of red wine cups. She wants me too, but she’s so shy it will hurt so much should this guy not get back, it has to be perfect or all those plans of who I am will fall to pieces, I’ll think what I want, you no longer pass with satisfaction in the sanctity of my little world. Reputation is my comfort among this little circle I’m blessed and constant in good graces, out a little wider the world doesn’t know who I am and never will. I like it that way, holding back the best of me, this patterned canvas will conceal my heart and show just enough of what I want. 

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Lovers come and go but friends are forever, that’s what they tell you until that crystal candelabra swings in your favor, then they’re gone. They charming flash their teeth in and everyone comes rushing to the savior that promises all their lacking. Trust the honorable scruffy rug you lay out with pillows and dream of being cherished. I want to fall asleep in your arms but its too dangerous tonight, there’s a lot of tension here, you can feel it too. Too much a stake I break for the drifter in me consuming Casanova.

You want to play this game enough to pull me to the edges of the carpet stained with that same couch that’s been sitting there for years, the dusty furnishings of absence, feel the absence of me then when I’m there again you won’t take me for granted. I’ll let you think that I’ll come back just enough that you don’t chase her, let that line I tied fly to its tightened ending, see how far you run before it snaps.

Minotaur's Song: Chapter One - Nicola Hicks @ Flowers NY by Laurence Fuller

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Bellowing throughout the countryside could be heard as she writhed in mud, beneath the bubbling soil lava breathed and boiled. The birth of the Minotaur has come. Worms and roots snapped and shuddered under his steaming hooves. Strapped harnessed, unchained body brushes it’s own will to the point of its aspiration, snout puffed, eyes bleeding flames of desire. Horns flexed their polished and pointed threat to the rumbling skies, the earth summoned his greater purpose unfulfilled in the greatness of his strength. 

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The Royals gather surrounding that same dining table where iridescent demon dramas play beast like games and pour city champagne over dusty draws that sparkle in their guts. Pushing back into the past, where Romance joined it's awful tune to the trumpet tunnels of the sky. Baskets of fruit usher summertime and the deep unending questions they feel too small to answer, too big for the little things, too small for the cosmos. Roaring golden fabrics rolling down walls of an art princess in an ivory tower carved by Irish craftsman, paid for by Victorian gentry in their quest for beauty. They wish there was an easier way to live a more certain path for the guidance of art to be directed. 

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A chorus of angry declarations echoed royal halls cascading and announcing themselves that this should be the way for this savage youth. Without a father’s love he would be wild untamed and beastlike to the end of his strange days. And yet it was decided to raise him as a boy, give him hope for that possibility of a free unburdened future filled with love and life, mystery and chance, forever unending promises of joy. The Minotaur would spend his youth on the riverbanks of Elysium.

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A bird floated on water’s surface, his proud beak glinting and his feathers plumed and puffed. Watching his flock over the rocks and dried up coral, proudly sat the Minotaur, picking oysters from the rocks for them to eat, they sat on his shoulder gripping claws into his rough and broiling flesh, to pick the remnants of his curious scavenge from the scruff of his jagged chin. His quiet watching of the universe unfold and glow to him in unexpected growth, his curiosity in the rock pools and octopus with crawling wriggling glimmers of color light and dreams. Scooping in his rough and rugged palms tiny slimey moluscs, delight and divine becoming of the new world in every moment he sipped up into the abundant pleasures of the water which ran down his jutting jaw. Drinking great gulps of strange love.

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The minotaur’s mother, fox like shifting shadow beast, visited him in secret baring tokens from the city. She told him fables of the life he left behind. She warned of seduction with some rough tongue tasting the pollen rich air, tingly from the sense of the underside of all that delicious pleasure. Big tree leaves drip with desire if only his eyes could tell the difference from what his heart already knows. Blown up sticking points of hungry little birds flying on open clouds bubbles in the sky. Look at the foreverness of joy, love, family, respect, duty to ones own, doubles its request to the underside of this haunted boy.

Evening landed, cloud licked skies bleed horizon to their shutting. Raising his arms to the galaxies of a universal mysteries which swilled in radiant rivers of his dreams. He lifted his flock, fly into the sky to pick from the stars, beckoning the Viking God Odin to his council.

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Odin shook the calamitous winds, his descending presence from the mountainside crushing and variant bellowing changes in the now smoke filled respite of the quiet river banks. Hollow fills the night sky flicking it’s frozen drops of untamed madness fill the winds. Open your guts for that confused state of abandoned beauty that Odin summons over Elysium. Minotaur staring up at the descending spirit, his eyes filled with the reflection of the sky like glass bubbled marbles piled up to glint in anticipation of its happening.

Admiration in his heart the Minotaur asked Odin to tell him omens of his future. Odin whispered tales of three goddess born; art princesses. The first; Progeny bursts out black and charred but with the will and reason to be, lava colored flesh pushing off the surface, shaking clean the molten crust, fiercely flipping off face chest and arms reaching to the sky, the land, the vast uncertain future, beckoning the right to what’s theirs, progression of this new world born of chaos, limbs of salt and flame, chewed up. Dying dripping tired bodies piled up across the burning skies cover ferocious talent.

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Listening melancholic protected by all those things which made Elysium home, the Minotaur slept. Sleep that rectified discomfort you were wrestling with, throwing diamonds against the wall hoping they'd catch meaning on their long way down to the chattering floor where they all live growing spider legs and scuttering the carpet for a home. Restless sleep made mornings drip away their spirits in time enchanted stings. He dreamt of childish indiscretions, the burgeoning of youth.

Deep in the night of another river, the viking bashed in the smokey musk hut simmering on the ice that coated the mountainside. White devil appears, white flesh glinting from the dim light of the moon, white blood pumping in a forgotten forest night, forgotten and stretching reaching to the sliding shiny surface crushed with salt washed traces he gripped once before in the battle for Elysium charging furious armies of pelt clad thunderous viking clammer channeling Gods and heroes to the call of destiny.

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Childish Force Of Nature by Laurence Fuller

Text by Laurence Fuller, Art works by Sima

Childish force of nature, my swirling body swims with salt drops dropping in pools of unexpected pleasure. Crashing water weeds washing their spirits with me. Together we cross over the top layer, before we get sucked under the other underneath pulled out to sea.

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Working through that introspection to the other side of a long lost handle on the inner dissonance of myself, I’m lost to find that gripping heartache that was so raw about my flesh, I hold you here like a wax candle dripping down my fingers. I hold its near sited gaze on the better world that sinks in endless washing brushes around its drowning middle temperatures. I wish I had a heavier weighted line to sink me down and meet you there. 

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Early young washed up seagulls wrestless flapping won’t you let them be who they are. I make mistakes too, I’m still young, it doesn’t have to be this way, let me flap and I’ll forget I was here with you. Craving skin swallowing up my body. If you desire this it will bring forces of nature on the waves of distant hope, you’re undivided self will pull me into you. This brutal part of yourself will never let me go. I don’t trust the water here. Why does art matter? I can’t remember, just stop trying to make it and there it is. Show me with your actions. 

This is who I am it’s the journey I’ve been on alone. Clung to the clutches to severe cheeks of desire. Dig your fingers into my flesh unattainable stomping grounds of my beach. I’m not good with names, better with people, he changed unrecognizable to the man I fell in love with. I see him there and in that fragile balance of life I lost contact with the him that swam within me. Just paint the thing.

Sunshine smiles don’t know this yet, just hope there’s more to the nervous childish energy behind my eyes, don’t bite my remaining fingertips I scrubbed them to the nerves already my skin peeled back by accident I burnt myself and so did you. I melted that pain away by the daylight of reflection. 

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Alone with my talent in a shell of many bodies piled up. These people who punch inside of us want to control us like puppets from the inside ripping at our veins, our heart the opals of our eyes. Shadows of our mind. There’s an open awkwardness to who you are. I feel I am at the beginning of who I am, I’d rather be a master of something new.

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I choose between the competition of Van Goghs crabs and then his sunflowers, they just are and they just do what they please, no one tells them what to do, they are completely themselves. Not his sunflowers but his bulb fields radiate with many purpose beings. Their not dried out but burnt that’s why they live with so much humming lust for life, so much more to give so many days to be what they truly desire as the universe folds in on itself to make it happen. The will within the oak tree that bursts through the rubble of a parish church ceiling so wandering shepherds can pillow books beneath their sleeping states. 





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There’s something of a child in me listening to the happy man looking at wooden pencil boxes on his pillow and toys, I play forever play many toys to task the marching band by boyish joy, clanging calamity of my imagination. Hope for the boy developing between my ears there they are, just for today I can pretend, I can pretend I am. 

Wonder you were gone, buried wonder you were gone, gone before my life was over here again I felt that there was something here again, was I alone in that sin, living over burlesque unity my friend I’ve longed for never changing in the wind. 


I let the symbols from my childhood dictate strange imaginings and we people are like paintings aren’t we, we just give something away and there it sits in the corner of our minds drifting in the thoughts of all the other things that we are. Don’t you want to get back there? Don’t you want to feel that way again? How lucky we are to have touched it even for a moment bent on the breeze of tired hillside grass. 

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What you want is space I can tell there’s too much of me in here, I can only curl up into a ball on your flower stitched sheets and come close to tears at the thought of that home which pulled your under ripping tides of womankind. In calm lakes of passive humility it grabbed your ankle and there you were before it caught and clawed your legs calling out to chivalry, something noble out there on the far gotten distance of your future, some oncoming hooves trotting the specked range reaching limits of your beach at night. 


A traveler gallops forward from the sands of other shores his worldly manner pushing past the perfect symmetry of twisted sheets and whirling human reflections of our living breathing connection to this oncoming wave of joy, slow down boy. Map the landscape of your heart before it’s captured by pirates of another country. 

Adoration for potential, the potential of this planet, sharks and turtles do what they are, watch them for a while before you pick them up, brush the sharp skin before you clutch its fin. Know this about me and them, I dive deeper than the shallow banks of most, I’ve invested in the inner world of who I am and I saw you there, stretching the legs of jelly fish across the shoreline of poetry, sea creatures populate the coral. Anemone bodies undulating together in that scooped out palace of this washing wistful daydream morning. I’ll think in bed, down antique telephones of tide this morning, muses bless my heart with powerful gifts too big to grasp easier to hold this small ball of nothing in quiet happy moments.



Over there that group they are not where they are almost never there anymore, I forgot to get them closer to this person I lost out at sea, to the siren islands he left my soul to that seduction. I can’t get him home again to the shipwrecks of mossy time, lion fish awaken their poisonous love. Sting me with your mark forever I don’t care about any of it anymore, I just want to feel some love blazing in my blood give me that fix of what I miss, naturalness open the pupil of my eyes to the muse, addicted to the absurd symbols of my unawakened imagination. 

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I’m back to scratching up the surfaces crusted on the sea floor of insight, inside my life there’s too much neon breaking out the background, hoping for colorful sea slugs, dolphin dreams retracting clouds above the surface of myself, when reality pulls me from this dream I’ll still be sat here calmly moving with the drifting deep tides. Bashing against a better self realized petulance, so stubbornly I dart between coral shelters, a strange home I’ve made I know I’m better when I’ve lost all hope, alone. You’ll like me more then I’ve too many people speaking in me to think clearly. Take time this moonlight night won’t last forever, too many years ahead to waste this potential. 

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All Too Human: Lucian Freud by Laurence Fuller

Whatever estimate may be placed upon Lucian Freud's 'naked portraits' by future generations, it is unlikely that they will ever be attributed to any time other than ours. Just as the regents and regentesses of Frans Hals (a painter with whom Freud has something in common) unquestionably belong to seventeenth- century Holland, so Freud's subjects seem indubitably to be children of this troubled century. Their modernity is not in question.

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All Too Human: Leon Kossof by Laurence Fuller

‘Although I have drawn and painted from landscapes and people constantly I have never finished a picture without first experiencing a huge emptying of all factual and topographical knowledge,’ writes Leon Kossoff. ‘And always, the moment before finishing, the painting disappears, sometimes into greyness for ever, or sometimes into a huge heap on the floor to be reclaimed, redrawn and committed to an image which makes itself.’

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All Too Human: David Bomberg by Laurence Fuller

David Bomberg drew a charcoal self-portrait in 1932 when he was 42 years old. As a young man he had been widely acclaimed for his ‘avant-garde’ paintings but when he became disillusioned with modernism interest in his work withered. The slant of his eyes and the line of his lips reveal both his contempt for the critics who shunned him and his stubborn determination. The strength of the heavy, binding outline joining the dome of the skull to that proud jaw seems like a declaration that he is not a broken man.

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Andy Warhol by Laurence Fuller

Peter Fuller's controversial views on Andy Warhol were at the root of his argument on aesthetics, now that the second draft of my screenplay about my father Modern Art is complete, I've decided it's time to start posting his most significant works. The below televised debate caused a huge stir when he was able to take on a room full of intellectuals on the subject of Warhol's work and what it means for the world.

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Iridescent Demon Dramas by Laurence Fuller

Iridescent demon dramas play  beast like games and pour city champagne over dusty draws that sparkle in my guts. Pushed back into the past,  where Romance  joined it's aweful tune to the trumpet tunnels of the sky. Baskets of fruit usher summertime and the deep unending questions I feel too small to answer, too big for the little things, too small for the cosmos.

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Echoes Of You - Open Letter with Christopher Lyndon Gee by Laurence Fuller

During my first lead role in an amateur theatre production of Shakespeare's the Tempest when I was 13 years old, a well established avant-garde conductor called Christopher Lyndon-Gee came to the performance, after the show he walked out and shook my hand, 'he said you truly do have the natural gift'. It was one of the few moments I can remember which set my course as an actor, it was a fuse which was lit early on with a determination that has never dulled. He later wrote my letter of recommendation for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

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Julian Schnabel: Images Of God by Laurence Fuller

Over the last four years I have seen a good many of Schnabel’s paintings, but I had not, until this exhibition, set eyes on one that manifested any painterly qualities at all. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to look at a picture like Alexander Pope, which indicates that Schnabel could conceivably learn to draw; or at Seed, which shows that, after all, he might have some decorative sensibility. Drawing and decorative sensibility are, you must understand, two of the necessary prerequisites for good painting.

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Rebel poem by Laurence Fuller

Rebel artist, rebel against the father, rebel with the river, rebel bending time, bending lines bending all that’s mine, he makes what’s his and gives it back to the great unending shimmer. I’ll give to you if I freely choose, I’ll walk my limping gate, my rebel friend, I’ll be there in the end, rebel makes his own chewed up calamity in time, rebel’s wish they had more than just their solitude to offer, a sorry piece of meat wrapped flimsy round his wrist, he hides the true prize made valor, mist and sin.

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