A few months ago, Gentle Reader, I was being shown around a newly-renovated gigantic house where the Golden Boy’s best friend for the past five years, “John” lives an idyllic life with his Mother and Father.
Right by the front door, there hung an extremely conspicuous life-size painting of a chair, painted in all sort of random colours. I felt it impossible not to comment on it, and I turned John’s Mother (JM) and asked, trying hard to keep the supercilious British twang out of my voice which I have been told sounds condescending and unapproachable, “So do you guys have an artistic friend?” For not for a moment, Gentle Reader, did I imagine that The Chair was the product of a professional artist and JM would pay good cash to buy it and subsequently hang it so prominently in her beautiful fresh new house.
JM replied “Oh no- This is JF’s work! I am so lucky to have an artist as a husband! This beautiful work of art for free!”
I added this startling little anecdote to my little stash of wisdom and insight regarding good working relationships. See, I told myself. This is why JM has a functional husband and I do not. She proudly hangs his horrendous paintings by the front door and tells everyone he is an artist. I would rather burn in hell than do such a thing. I even related this story to my brother last week, as we sat watching the sun set over the Thames, drinking some posh organic London beer, and he was suitably impressed too. For we have all been brought up to fight tooth and claw for the luxury of remaining true to ourselves, and if we don’t like something a partner was doing, we would consider it our duty to point it out, again and again. And again, if necessary. We would rather let five hundred relationships explode into flames than tell a lie to save it, and we have proven that, again and again.
A few days ago, I visited the National Gallery of Art, the Princess and I. We stood in front of Van Gogh’s Chair, and stared at its vibrating lines and colour. Something jolted in my memory. I turned to the Princess and screamed “Look! Look! This is what JF’s painting was about! He was copying the Chair! Do you remember? This is where he got it from!” The Princess, my faithful henchman in all of this, who had been standing by my side when JM waxed lyrical on her husband’s stupid painting, opened her eyes even wider and nodded “Oh yeah…” Then she wandered off to the next painting. It is possible that she was not as impressed with all of this as I was.
So it seems, Gentle Reader, my little anecdote on Functional Relationships needs revision. Maybe JM was actually cherishing modern art and impressionism by hanging up her husband’s large painting of a chair. Maybe she wasn’t working on solidifying her relationship after all. maybe she really was impressed by his homage to Van Gogh, maybe her husband’s painting is as good as, even better, and deserves such prominent display? What do I know, after all, of the conjunction of art and relationships?