The painter is standing a little back from his canvas. He is glancing at his model;
perhaps he is considering whether to add some finishing touch, though it is also
possible that the first stroke has not yet been made. The arm holding the brush is
bent to the left, towards the palette; it is motionless, for an instant, between canvas
MICHEL FOUCAULT - THE ORDER OF THINGS
the painter is standing a little back from his canvas. he is glancing
at his model; perhaps he is considering whether to add some
finishing touch, though it is possible that the first stroke has not
yet been made. the arm holding the brush is bent to the left
towards the palette; it is motionless for an instant between
canvas and paint. he pauses here. the left hand leans the brush
against the surface. the left hand unbuttons the artist’s trousers.
the right hand pulls down his underwear and flicks out what is
from behind the easel, he approaches his model.
the woman releases a scream. she is horrified so she yells,
‘what have you been doing? who do you think you are?’
the painter grins and declares,
‘I am the artist.’
the painter is standing a little back
from the canvas. she knows the
cost already but she reads the
label anyway. it is still expensive
and she is still poor. she pulls it
out from the shelf as if it were a
drawer. she checks it for rips and
dirt. she pulls it out and looks
along its line seeing it is straight.
with the tips of her fingers she
hooks onto it and carries it to the
the assistant at the till is older
than her. he smiles at her and she
realises that he must have chewed
on a biro because the ink has
seeped into his gums.
she doesn’t think to tell him as it
would embarrass him but he
notices her staring and that smile
becomes suspicious and fake. she
awkwardly hands him the money
in cash and coins and leaves the
shop. she remembers she needs
buckets and oil.
when the painter arrives home,
she hangs the canvas on the only
screw planted in the wall. she
takes off her gloves and places the
buckets and oil underneath the
she wants to begin but they have
to wait. she has forgotten to ring
the painter stands a little back from his canvas. he’s wearing a
white three-piece suit. there is no brush only three naked girls.
one by one, he holds his hand at the base of their spine and
whispers in their ear. they nod and immerse themselves in three
separate baths of thick paint. they hop out shining and lay on
the outstretched canvas. around the edge of the surface, there
is an audience who chatter and smoke pipes. some have their
hands deep in their pockets and balance on the balls of their
feet. others cross their arms.
the painter claps and the girls react and move. he begins to
shout but smiles as to not offend their sensibilities. the girls
smile too but sometimes the material grates their skin.
throughout an orchestra plays in the corner of the room never
looking over to what is going on.
‘FINI’ declares the painter and he takes a bow. the viewers all
clap and blow more smoke into the air. they talk to one another
out of the corner of their mouths. the painter walks through the
crowd and he feels their hands patting his back. the hands
quickly move on. they want to know what the girls know.
the painter stands a little back from the canvas as the assistant
takes a seat in the corner of the room. she faces towards the
easel where, earlier she placed the frame.
she made it this morning for him. she cut the timber, put it
together and stretched the material over it, neatly planting
staples in rows on the back. she then primed the surface ready
for the painter. she waited until finally he appeared. she watched
him stand in the threshold, glancing at the flowers, the apples in
the bowl and finally the canvas. and now he is in the room with
her, standing a little back from the canvas, and they are both
silent. the assistant doesn’t know if she has gone unnoticed or
whether she is being ignore so she gets up to leave. she turns as
the painter grabs her arm. his gaze never leaves the surface but
the assistant knows he is finished. she nods. he is up and in the
threshold once again but then, as quickly as he came, he
disappears. she sighs because all she can do is take it away and
slide it into the rack with the other blank frames. unused,
unwanted and unnourished.
the painter stands a little back from the canvas as the model
disrobes. she lets her gown fall to the floor and immediately she
feels the air from the open window breathe onto the back of her
she watches the painter as he inhales nervously. she recognises
anxiety better than most and so she plays with it.
the model floats towards the canvas. she is not sure if this is the
first time but she can feel his beat. she looks in his eyes and
scratches the surface. the model tuts and the painter looks away
as he attempts to reason why.
she moves to the open window and looks down at the world.
below children flock together in a school yard. they line up in
neat little rows. the teachers are there too, guiding them back to
the classes and out of the noise. the model closes the window
and instantly warms.
‘where do you want me?’ she asks.
‘over there.’ he replies ambiguously.
it was always going to be her choice so she lays across the chair
and the painter can’t do anything but hide. immediately she is
bored by him and all the money in the world could not keep her
here. but it is not the money that makes her stay; that doesn’t
matter at all.
the painter stands a little back from his canvas. he is tired. he is
blinded by the sweat falling into his eyes and he burns. the lights
are upon him and he can feel their heat. the sweat and his blood
fall to the surface. each drop is deliberate but there is no way of
knowing where they fall. he is a part of a thousand
the crowd shout at him. they are drunk and they are tired also.
they love his story but they never loved him as he has always
been the villain. they spit from their seats towards the surface.
his mother stayed away. sad to see her son at the worst. she
never got it and died never getting him.
his work made him money but he never got the credit. they said
he was too brutal to hold something so tender. the money he
had, he never saw. first those suited men took it and then it was
a woman who only ever wanted to be a widow. they said he was
too brutal to hold something so brittle.
but he presses on, the canvas his cosmological constant. it never
wains. he is drawn to it as those were before him. there is no
place you are more lonely but if you are a painter, there is no
place you are more happily alone.
PLEASE ORDER FROM THE SHOP IF YOU WISH TO READ MORE