A contemporary ekphrasis
- The Uprising
Framed in Rembrandt-brown metal the barricade stretches carbon fibres beyond the city. Soldiers are gathered with a group of prisoners; a Navistar’s headlights reflect from shackles and handcuffs. They will eventually release the rebel leader (a figure of folklore) but at this moment night’s umber catches everyone in its net – the captain, his soldiers, the revolutionary leader’s ragtag supporters. The headlights are aimed at the single figure of a woman, who looks toward the old city and the ocean that’s already swallowing its boundary. There is a hint of blue despite the night; a sense of time pressing her body; and impossibly white nylon sleeves on her raised arms.
- The Interrogation
The lead white walls are an examining stare; the prisoner sits with legs apart, glancing at something we don’t see. Words ascend the walls but we can’t hear them. The interrogator points long silver fingernails, slicing the air with questions. The prisoner’s crime is unclear, but a flag of stars smoulders on the table and fragile smoke escapes an ashtray. The prisoner might be smiling, even as a shadow in the cell’s corner reaches toward his arms.
- The Riot
Crowds are splashes and slabs of colour; the painting shows a hurly-burly of dense pigments and clashing tones. A torn uniform is smeared by blue air; someone’s shout is a streak of ultramarine. Here’s a girl who stumbles on the street. Here’s a Pomeranian barking. Baubles are daubed on street lamps and the tarmac is lit by the orange glow from an autogyro’s lights. A man is pointing a gun. In the left-hand corner a squirrel hair from the painter’s brush hangs next to his signature.
- Dinner at the Kinboshi with Friends
It’s as if the bar is breathing, its inhabitants squeezed between balconies on the north side of the quarter. As they talk and drink the walls become lungs and throats. The cod testicle and tofu skin arrives and they sit back for a moment, scattering chilli flakes across the food. Since the recent decree, even such a gathering may be illegal – but no-one’s sure of the rules. A young woman speaks of her mother’s isolation; an older man begins to cry, afterwards saying “it’s nothing”. A spy-for-a-safer-city camera blinks coolly in the mall.
.Cassandra Atherton & Paul Hetherington