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In First Body

A painter paints himself from a mirror.
He sees an image and thinks how to draw
Which materials, what size.

Small, intimate, with small hand movements
Or larger than life.

What to draw
The whole figure, or part of it
Or where to cut?

How to draw
In one quick strong swoop, close to the paper
Draw the body with the whole body

Or from a distance
To measure and examine
To dim the line with a blot or to cut the blot with a line
To erase, to emphasize, to photograph or to understand, interpret

Or once this way and once that way and to alternate
It’s all part of the process, of creating the work
Sometimes running, sometimes checking,
Sometimes breaking through and sometimes closing in,
Sometimes erasing and sometimes retaining what is left.

A painter enters into the mirror and is a stranger to himself
Eyes that examine eyes that return the gaze
And examine
A moving figure, a still figure. A thinking figure, a feeling figure
Asking: that’s how I look, that’s how I work, that’s how I feel?
Asking: what’s renewed, what’s gotten old, what’s funny?

One hand draws moving incessantly
Breaking beyond the boundaries of the mirror
But this is
The hand
That exists.

Dec. 1997

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