I apologize. I don’t know – what you see is an unsuccessful attempt at “action”. I mean in the sense of so-called “action art”. Simply an attempt at something of the likes of an “act of creative freedom”, as I have been told – nothing more.
Ludicrous, isn’t it? So what? The only thing that can maybe console me in connection with this failure is the fact that I’m a mere amateur. I don’t want to make excuses, but I really never had much to do with real modern art. Maybe in my youth I might have had some embryo of an interest, but essentially I was always indifferent to it, because it seemed to me superfluous and I never needed it for anything. By the way, that conviction still persists in me. I had no problem, or what’s more I was relatively happy, until such time as I allowed myself to be talked round by a certain Mr. Černický – apparently an “artist”. I know today that that was a fundamental mistake.
That terrible person started telling me how I should start taking an interest in that degenerate “modern art”, that it would give me vitality and zest for life. That man spoke very convincingly and urgently and he got me so confused that I really fell for it like a fool. He tried to convince me that art is an “act of creative freedom”, you understand? “Creative freedom”, and he literally got me into a tizzy for the action works of a certain Mr. Jackson Pollock. Said I should study them and try it too. Said I should liberate myself, summon up the last remnants of my life’s creative force and to slap them onto canvas without the least scruple. Such stupidity, Utopia, pathetic! Understand? At my age?
Am I to behave like a teenager? Look, I could pull a sinew, slip a disk or, God forbid, fall down! And you see how it turned out too! A waste of breath. I owe you some explanation, to put you on the right track. Take it as an apology.
I simply tried to concentrate as Mr. Černický advised me. It wasn’t working for me, so I tried at least to suggest that I was in a state of “absolute concentration” (his words too), so it would at least look like that to him, if nothing else. Stupidity, stupidity, lies, I hate that. I should never have allowed myself to be manipulated like that. I had to at least pour some alcohol into my head, in order not to feel like a hypocrite. There’s truth in booze, after all, so why not enlightenment, providence, courage and faith?
I mustered up all my strength then (and believe me, there wasn’t much) and stretched myself – but as could be expected, at the very moment I did so, all my cheap alcoholic courage deserted me in an instant. I began to hesitate and that was the end. At the most important moment I reconsidered my one and only attempt. For a split second I doubted. I stopped considering and feeling dynamically, progressively, as they say, and I was overwhelmed by fear. I stopped believing in great quantity and in actions that I could reveal at least something, even though that something might be the expression, or non-expression, of mere chance. From then on it was only a drop into an abyss and I prayed that at least I would hit the mark. Who could have known it would turn out like this? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, or beat that loser half to death.
How can I express it in a way that you, who will judge my work, can understand? The truth is, I am going through unbearable moral suffering caused by getting old, and that “action” was an expression of my last instinct for self-preservation. Or if you like, desire for life. I don’t know if it’s possible to be free in an old body. I don’t think so. It would probably be wiser to put one’s last strength into maintaining oneself in a functioning condition, simply to care for one’s health and not get into such excesses. After this experience, I’m simply giving up these activities. The truth is, what I would really need is rehabilitation and solace, and especially compassion and understanding. What is bothering me, is a lack of interest. I want someone to ask me what’s bothering me and, when it’s bothering me, that at least someone will learn a lesson from it, because he will also certainly run into it in the future. Where are my fellows? At work? In the supermarket? On vacation? In a gallery? My problem is not only concerned with age, though. That loss of creative potency is related to a lack of faith in great acts and it is a social problem. It is my experience that whenever I attempt to do something great, then I immediately get knocked down. Nobody ever really tried to understand.
I would say that at my age it’s no longer possible to be fervent, to be open without horizon. I can’t keep up to date with current themes. My imagination is over-familiar (if I ever had one), and therefore it makes no sense for me to show anyone anything. And if there is nothing for anyone to see, then there’s no sense in doing it. I would fall in shame into an abyss of embarrassment, abhorrence and solitude. That would really be the end.
You know, I never believed in the salvation of aesthetic categories, and any kind of action or, God forbid, ecstasy provokes fear in me and deprives me of the courage to take risks. Why action, when most activities are painful for me? How am I to overcome my degeneration? By means of action art? Or modern art? Well, it’s ludicrous! Action, freedom, vitality, ecstasy, creation – that’s a load of rubbish. Do you understand? I can’t even really remember when I last experienced proper sex. I’ve been observing the decline in my manhood for a long time. No attempt at inducing potency, no stimulation strategy works, nothing. At a certain age it becomes quite difficult to establish relationships – one doesn’t have so many opportunities. I can’t get it up for my wife and it seems embarrassing to me to pay such unholy money for a young thing, especially on my pension, and anyway I couldn’t stand some angelic face looking at my decaying body. You understand, I’m an old man now who sometimes has to wear incontinence pants. Life is only suffering and boredom now, and that’s how it will stay. My impotence is of a hormonal nature. I thought at least in art there could still be some hope of experiencing something more. I haven’t had a bit of decent excitement for a good thirty, forty years. But now I know that with art it’s the same.
I’m actually revolted by creating, because at my age there’s no question of true creation, and if by some miracle something was to succeed, no one would recognize it, because no one takes me seriously. I’m disgusted by all those ambitions, embarrassing hopes, oblique, vain expectations. Why should I convince anyone about what I am doing? I’m no longer capable of defending myself against any arguments, because if I tried, I’d be immediately denounced for acrimony and for wanting to argue with everyone at any cost. And at the same time I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to shout at anyone, who doesn’t like big gestures, who hates the violence the present-day world is overwhelmed with. I can’t accept violence simply for the reason that I’m weak. And if I should happen to feel like struggling against all those things, to turn against a world that hurts me without a word of apology and denies me the slightest respect, then as a result of my conduct I’d close the door to every last person. Revolt is prohibited for me and good art is allegedly connected to it. I am waste destined for an ever more limited lifetime. Contemporary art is ruled by the devil of depravity. I’m depressed by this mountain of stupidity, this obscenity of kitsch and blood. What’s more, I constantly feel like a fool because I don’t understand any of it. I hate those supposedly secretive, intellectual equilibrists that make idiots of people. I simply don’t want to identify with them. It makes me want to throw up, but that, as I hope you’ve already grasped, would be too big a gesture for me. Now I am only trying to retain a speck of human pride and dignity.
Nothing remains for me but to be silent.
In the end I promised Mr. Černický that he could present the reconstruction of my painting wherever he likes. At least I’ll get shut of it. I gave him my permission under duress.
Non-Action Non-Painting, 2008
acryl on canvas