Tarago Diaries #5 – No one ever called Pablo Picasso an asshole

Musings on artistic pretension.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 8 November 2018.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial/posts/1677614262344906?tn=K-R

Article Text

‘No one ever called Pablo Picasso an asshole’…

When I first ventured out looking for the artistic life, fumbling in the mist of those 80’s Melbourne rock parties,

young, angry and virginal,

I quickly became aware, through repeated exposure, of a small elite who would congregate behind the closed door of the party bathroom and imbibe on whatever substance they needed to reinforce the idea that their ‘separateness’ was somehow meaningful..

At some pre-determined moment, the door would swing open and out they’d wander, sauntering through the crowd like priests with big hair, dough-eyed and stuffed, carrying whatever incite they’d gleaned shortly before, in that arm wrestle with the flame and the spoon, holding it secretly within them, where it remained, hidden behind a veil of exclusivity, never to be shared with whoever happened to be wearing the wrong footwear that night, or shirt, or haircut, or whatever other careless gesture of unselfconsciousness had marked you out as, well, sorry mate, but there’s only one word for it..

A loser.

And that’s the way the artistic life has always worked. It is no sanctuary from the dog eat dog. The Culturati are just as imbued by conceit as bankers or real estate agents..

Some doors have opened while others have remained firmly closed.

To say that the artistic life lies far off in some special place where dreams are processed, made real, on the wings of human self-expression..

Ah, well, let me tell you..

I’m always amazed at how certain artists, who made their ascent as much through rat cunning as genius, reach a certain age where they feel the need to airbrush the squalor.

Late in their cloudy reign, they start to crow about how ‘spiritual’ the journey has been.

‘Oh how the angels spoke to them’..

so that the rest of us can warmly succumb to the myth that great poetry must remain the exclusive domain of the seers, those who had some special connection with holiness..

The people behind the bathroom door.

They were only looking up after all, not down at us..

‘Bulldust’.. as my father used to say.

What’s that line?

‘Some of us are looking at the stars’.. or whatever..

Oh please..

What is this appeal to greatness? This notion of genius beyond the pale of struggle, beyond context?

It is nothing more or less than the age-old lie told to protect the elite, the very lie they so vehemently rejected back in their DADA days when they were, well, young…

With nothing to lose,

The very same lie you or I might have told to get into that bathroom in the first place, the lie that turned on a question of power, which is why art, like all human endeavor, is ultimately political, shabby though that sounds. It is why lies are told, even in art.. to control access to the muse.

And so, which muse matters? Who’s muse is, well, ‘More equal’ as Orwell would put it?

Yours, mine or Pablo Picasso’s?

Well, there’s a trip..

I was always fond of that Jonathan Richman song:

“Some people try to pick up girls
And get called asshole
This never happened to Pablo Picasso
He could walk down your street
And girls could not resist his stare
And so Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole”…

until now..