23 Nov 2022
After Wyndham Lewis’
The Convalescent (1933)
The tea set from the Timon series
rests on a low table, within her reach,
or his, to pour for her. But here
it’s safe from the thrusting, never-compromising
vectors of constant war,
although those may still surge beyond
the wide black blinds,
which may in fact be evidence of it …
She’s golden. She’s better.
He with his head in her lap
and her hand, still weak, on his head is also,
therefore, better, and golden. Both
like machines, which is not
(as Leger also saw, from the Left)
unhuman. Her face, turned aside,
black dot eyes soft
upon a kinder nothingness, human …
The blinds and what, in a lower world,
may be canvases seem
reluctantly to rouse, as if to march
towards the lower right – unseen by the lovers,
whom the bugler Time will not summon.
Behind the poem...
Wyndham Lewis has always been one of my favorite painters – his Vorticism a worthy synthesis of Cubist, Futurist, and Expressionist elements. Most often his work is acerbic, even violent; the tenderness of The Convalescent is quite attractive. Though the figures of woman and lover are stylized, streamlined, their feelings are convincingly rendered, and heightened by their golden hue. This peaceful moment, repeated by the tea set, contrasts with the dynamic abstract forms beside the figures, which are like Time sweeping past. I strive for similarly juxtaposed emotions in my own work: for the irruption of realistic features in a fanciful context.