Walkind Rodriguez arrived from Toulouse yesterday and hung three of his paintings in the salon. This means that one-third of the show is up! Still to go: Geneviève Flament, who arrives from vacation this afternoon, and Paul Grayson, who'll be away from La Défense this weekend.
Walkind and I tried many different combinations of hanging the three paintings together, found the right one, then sat back and admired them and spoke in French about his work. Since his roots are Afro-caribbean, we talked of superstition and symbols and he acknowleged that he is fascinated by turtles and goes to the woods to find them and paint them.
"They represent immortality," I said. He said nothing.
"Tenacity," I tried again.
No. For him, he said, they represent calm!
I looked. I thought about the sublime tortoise I saw in front of me. Realized that as long as he is up in my living room I will meditate on this talisman of serenity and be better for it!
Walkind, though, was not calm yesterday because he had lost something on the train and was obsessing and beating himself up about it. He'd made the requisite call to the lost and found department, but couldn't stop worrying. I gave him an empty frame and said half joking, "Stop obsessing. Get back to work!"
He looked philosophical. He quoted a poet friend of his who said, "There's work and then there's the sack of knots that is the rest of your life!"
At first I thought he was saying that work is nothing but problems to solve. Then I realized that he was saying the opposite: that work is comfort, is respite from all that. That when you love your work, everything else falls away for a time. Taking work and taking life like a tortoise, slow but sure progression, protected, calm.
"Icotea," acrylic on canvas, 89 cm. x 116 cm., 2009. On display for the show "Quatorze Juillet."