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NAMIBIA for John Hersey Jr.

for John Hersey Jr
Fri Jun 15th, 2018

The Kalahari Desert is far from Millbrook, far from Dutchess County, NY,

but not as far as you might think. The canons governing our paintings

are thin, thin and dry. Whose paintings are gaudy? Certainly not ours!

 

Gaudy is not even askable, John. We joylessly assimilate the sun,

the many hundreds of kilometers of super-arid gravel plains and dunes,

while other painters in Namibia paint karoo ecoregions...green succulents,

 

monkey beetles, and melittid bees, and the densely foggy shoreline

where the Atlantic's cold waters meet Africa's hot climate. Other painters

paint with violet, orange, yellow, green; their tribal villages have names.

 

Other painters hint at shafts of sapphire, the weightlessness of deep water

beyond the shore; but not us, John. No, we sketch in black pencil

and charcoal in recycled notebooks...two seriously sunburnt imbeciles.

 

Sure, we dream of whalesongs. Sure, we dream of rainforest bird calls.

Doesn't everybody? But we only dream, don't we?

And now one of us has died -- suddenly died -- and I am troubled more

 

by insomnia than usual; I act on the belief I need to paint, need to live,

living by no less, no more, than by stubbornness. What I need to do

is stretch out, and discharge myself of myself; look for green from afar.