Sunday, November 10, 2013

Seeing my home through a fish eye

When my father passed away, I went back home for the traditional Shiva-a, the seven days period of mourning. Perhaps the grief did something to change the way I viewed things, or else it was sitting in that space--my childhood home--in a spot I rarely sat before, discovering it from a new angle, observing how light penetrated the far reaches of this place, how the furniture signified relationships in the family. I drew what I saw on a napkin; wiped my tears with it, and later discarded it.

Coming back to the states, I recreated that sketch from memory. In my new drawing I used a fish-eye perspective. What does that mean? Like regular perspective, the horizontal lines converge into a vantage point in the distance. But here is the difference: the vertical lines are not straight, nor are they parallel. As you look up, vertical lines converge to a point up there, beyond the edge of the paper. You can call it Heaven. And as you look down, the vertical lines converge to a point below, call it Hell. Which makes the entire perspective embrace you, as if you are in the middle of a fish bowl, seeing the world curve around you.

And looking though such a perspective, what did I see? An earthquake, really, in the aftermath of my father's death. Books falling off the shelves; the lamp swinging like a pendulum; the little side table (in the front) overturned, so my father will never lay his pen upon it; and instead of the persian rugs that used to adorn this space once upon a time, I floated blank pages on the floor; pages he will never again use for writing.

In my next sketch I let the lamp swing even higher into the air. The place has completely tilted, and my father's armchair is ascending above the rest of the furniture. This is the sketch I used for an oil painting called My Father's Armchair, which later became the cover of Home.

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"HOME is an homage... poetry that's never been placed before the public until now"