What was the topic for the next writing challenge? Haunting.. or a haunting… haunting of some kind…Plenty of time to do that, but now to settle to write about another striking picture painted by David Bez. It’s called Winter Farewell and it is a challenge to describe it… it has a feeling of rock art, strange symbols and shapes which might be actual things, or maybe a map, or maybe there’s a story in the squiggles and squirls.
The picture is mostly grey but there are patches of red, an ochre cave-painting red and dabs and smears of a dark yellow, which in a sinister way is reminiscent of a bird’s gizzard… a gizzard removed as the fowl is eviscerated… There are areas of white, a carefully painted white whirligig in the left corner, white symbols and marks – the sort you might see on a Native American tent, then there are smudged daubs of it, maybe clouds, maybe patches of snow.
On either side of the picture is a bare, leafless form of a tree, leaning inwards, embracing, protecting the scene. Trees seem to be a common framing device from Bez, he likes trees, etiolated and ent-like. From half way up the left side a squiggly river snakes its way diagonally downwards towards the right. it forks and then fades away, has it maybe disappeared underground, another vanished river?
As there is no sense of perspective or view it is difficult to tell what is land what is sky and even whether we are above looking down, or maybe below, below the surface of water maybe, looking up. In the space between the framing tree and the curving, meandering river is a structure, hung with glowing balls or baubles…maybe another tree, maybe the white glowing orbs are bunches of blossom? Some of the orbs float free, some are empty, mere outlines, ghostly casings of something, something now hatched and gone.
Beyond the winding river which runs diagonally north-west to south-east (this does feel a very geographical image, but who knows which direction the rivers flow) there’s a fine network of orange-brown dried blood coloured lines, like capillaries in an anatomical diagram, or the ghostly remains of a water course on a distant, now arid planet. This is where the yellow ochre is, curving against an eyes-shaped patch of grey – is it the curve of distant hills, the silvery-white eye shape the first light of dawn? There are stars, simple childlike, tiny radiating lines… Sirius perhaps, Sirius twinned and twinned again.
Flying across this sky are three birds, dark shapes silhouetted against dawn – if it is dawn. It might seem they mean something, but maybe they are just birds, just three birds.
In the right bottom corner, there is a bright circular light – as if from an illuminated cave. Emerging from this cave are three figures, long-legged and bulky, two of them have small thin arms outstretched – in welcome, to shake off sleep, as a sign, signal or symbol? They seem to be moving forwards, out of the picture. The smaller one behind – smaller because of distance, or smaller because he is smaller, has his arms down. Maybe he is yet to make the greeting, the stretch, the signal? Or maybe he is holding, down low, a weapon, and the pair in front are in a classic pose when there is a gun threatening. Behind this figure is a strange shape, a shapeless shape, maybe a totem or a pillar, maybe another figure wrapped against the morning chill… it isn’t clear.
This is imagination working over-time – the title is Winter Farewell, and maybe it is just that, a farewell to the cold dark days, and a walking out into the warmer, brighter spring.
No-one but the artist knows the story, but haunting… yes it is.