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Jan Bodo Lessman

Pirna, Germany

Jan Bodo-Lessman

Jan is on a personal sabbatical in the Pacific thinking out his writing career which he hopes to pursue later writing in German. He thinks his Pacific experiences has greatly enhanced his view of the world and knows it will always stay with him and his writing.

Excerpt from Making Waves

The Pacific Artist

"Hey, Jake. Phillip, here is someone for you."—The Tongan called, helping me out hereby.

"Just over there, that's him. That's Phillip, as we call him." And, he was pointing into the direction, by which I entered the compound.

"All right, my friend. Here you are. I was wondering whether you are Phillip or not. However, it's my weak memory that… well, anyway…"

I was trying to build up a conversation, a little vague as always, since I noticed the scrawny lad as quite slippery in his movements of body and eye, and so I was wondering whether he would fall into my trap of a conversation to serve some selfish academic purpose.

"Yeah, man, I was wondering too, when you walked by right next to me. I asked myself, hey is that the guy you met during the exhibition, or what? He looks kind of like him, I said to myself, but, man I tell you, I was just too doped during that session."

Now the artist seemed benevolent towards me as we stood uncertain in the Oceania Center's junk room.

"But what's your name again… my friend. Sorry, I…"

And, hence some skirmishing of introductions started up between the two of us, regarding our names, and whether we could catch up soon with each other, or in a manner of a circling, like bullfighters on red earth.

"I see, now you are here, because I really wanted to see… yeah, man.  And, I tried catching up with you too. True, I told my dad after our session that I met this guy, this artist, I will have a conversation with."

He laughed refreshingly and still somehow uncertain, since he found himself drawn in deliberation whether I had in reality offered whatever kind of reward or promise of a later commission for his art.

"Jake", I told him after a while of hide-and-seek while I tried to escape his eyes and elastic judging fingers, "…I'm really sorry to say that, for I guess I must have given you a wrong impression. Unfortunately, I cannot offer you any job, nor could I pay you anything for your collaboration."

Although a question mark appeared to be written on his forehead, he agreed by nodding, and somehow he swallowed the facts of the interview as a burden, but he smiled once more at me.

"Anyway, I tell you again. It only leads into a small publication, it's our as well as stuff from Hawaiʻi that will be printed. And our project means the collaboration between the Oceania Center and the literature class will be like… like that I think. They will make, let's say, about 1000 or more copies and those will be send to universities all around the globe. I know you might have hoped for more, I'm sorry, but that's all I can offer to you, actually."

"No, man, I mean JAN. That's great. Thank you, bro; I'm really grateful for this opportunity for my art to go places from university to university."

It's no bad deal, I say. And, of course, you got it, yeah. I was really hoping to get you a commissioned job, but as I said I was so fucking doped that day—duuhh!"

"Yeah, I'm very sorry myself, I didn't mean to confuse you, bro."

"Yeah, man, I tell you that was a difficult type of painting, this one, all the anatomy.

And I remember clearly why I painted it and when, it was in the beginning of this year.


"Yeah, Jan", Scuby was trying to steal some of my attention as he was party to this conversation from the sidelines, as he would come in later for his share of beer.   

"I have done those painting too, you know. Just for this year that I have stopped. I have made those paintings, bigger ones even, and I have sold all of them. One for $200, most for just $150, and even one real big one for…"

"What do you think, Phillip, why did you actually paint that one in front of us? What was your motive?"

"True, man. We have experienced the same. As well my painting was mainly done for the pain I felt. It was the same what happened to me. This girl, nay, she messed me up, left me with all the pain, left me left me back alone."

"Now I know how you could relate to the picture, Jan," added Scuby thoughtfully.

"But, more in the plain technical sense, Phillip, how do you relate this feeling, this experience to the picture, to its parts. That means if you can tell me about that."

"Right, man."

"See, for instance, we have got these parts over there, dark, elusive, and we have got the others over here, parrot-colored, yellow, red, and blue, and we have got something in between. Here…Don't mind me standing up now, guys. There is… there is a great ambiguity, a dualism between the head, which is sort of entrapped by the dark tangle… by this, by the metastasis on the other side, and we have got the very opposite impression down here, embodied by the arm. The arm lies around the trunk or the chest — it secures it I should almost say. However, man, what do you say?"

"Hmm, I have never looked at it that way, but as you said — yeah, I can see what you mean. You make me truly see it from a different angle."

"Yeah, I can see it too." Scuby added.

"There is indeed a vast difference in terms of the coloring that strengthens the singularity of the upper and the down there parts. We can find life, dynamic, breathing here. And, here we have got a dream world's curse, frozen feelings manifested right here, in this spiral-shaped appendix of the head. Or, as the yoga people say, it is a negative kundalini, a black snake's curse, a female demon of the old days. You know, this Hindu religious stuff."

"Whatever, I just assume or imagine certain things - tell me about you, please. Tell me more from the creator's standpoint."

He shook his head twice, moving in the way his eyes finally came to rest, while he calmly smiled and it seemed as if he had not lost his sympathy for me at any rate. On the contrary, his voice seemed to talk to me as if I was a little brother, anchored in his animated language as he responded to my inquiries.

"You make me, as I said, see a lot of things I haven't seen before. Maybe they are true, maybe not. — It sounds very nice in my ears—but I tell you. Well…I don't know man, I don't know, Jan. There was one thing. One thing that remained and formed this painting. Pain. It was my pain, the grief about this juicy lady. And, I wanted to express that.  Yeah, I did. Yeah, there is so much pain, Jan, in that picture, so much pain, oh boy. Everything is art, or can become art—by the means of the artist."

"Everything is art, true." Phillip slowly repeated the meticulous chant, which the other rascal had made us aware of earlier.

"Everything is art, true." Scuby now recited himself, after he had listened to the echo from the other side.

Subsequently, we lost touch with the very painting and shifted towards other coastlines, we spoke about the women who made us sing such exaltations, and they may have been pure slander, though.  Even if Phillip made the utterance, in his manner an essential one, which was immediately repeated by the other chap, "without them"—so was his expression—"without them there is something missing in our lives."

"What would be a world without women, without such succulent bodies of theirs, what without a feeding breast?"—both burst into shallow laughter as he shaped the air thus for signifying the appearance of a female breast. Similarly he declared that the forms he had used for the painting were, more or less, meaningless, and he did not relate to them as I did. Those forms like the aquiline shell of the shoulder would be just one of his favorite shapes, likewise the background's dark tangle.

Such images develop within him and they remain there for a while, in case he engages with those, if he can focus till he has captivated them on paper.

A few times I compared his remarks with the process of writing, which is the only one of the arts I'm somewhat familiar with, and I only got to know all I was writing about here after several attempts of inquiry.

If it would be plain humbleness, unless it rather appears as intuition and more premiere knowledge, ay, soil proximity of his, that connects him to the imagery, most of them look more like a kind of limp salad, or even eyes and extremities on the rocks.

Despite of some seriousness of this work, he is yet more of a player, a joker as he called himself, the youthful dress will not disappear very soon from his outside. And thereby, he is well off I feel obligated to say; he is what he is.

"Not daring is fatal." like René Crevel said on one occasion—not to dare is closer to being fatalistic, hopeless and not making one's way purposefully I guess.  And, thus, there is, together with this desire, most probably an incorrect striving, a prospect for one's fortune for which, yet, there are always sacrifices to make according to our common belief. And, every true seeker keenly welcomes those. The Pacific artist dares for these disasters to happen. Philip laughs. Scuby, too. There is cold beer somewhere for the Pacific artist to draw circles and lines on the condensation. We head there.