gaze (Esquisse)

1999 〜 2010 / 210 × 296 mm / Pencil Ink

To my mind, the border between a sleeping body and a corpse is a somehow a vague one. There is a resemblance with the handling of the 'Sleeper' series, in the sense that both deal with metamorphosis in normal life. I did not see my father die. I was not in time to do so. Perhaps that fueled a certain tenacity in me. After my arrival, there were about two days left before my father was to be cremated. We didn't have any religious ceremony whatsoever. That gave me plenty of time to gaze at the corpse, and I managed to make several sketches of my father's face in death. This experience taught me many things, but it also implanted a deja vu feeling like a scar deep inside me. Ordinarily, once rigor mortis has set in, the joint of the jaw is locked in the open position. To stop this, one can close the mouth by pushing the jaw upward, which takes considerable force, or tying it shut with a piece of cloth. But moisture accumulates with the passage of time, and its evaporation inevitably opens up cracks between the lips. The lips end up getting thinner. Filled with an indescribable fear, I tried smearing cream on the lips from time to time to prevent them from drying up, but to no avail - the openings would still appear. They seemed like dark slashes on the face. I was struck by the heartlessness of nature, which did not permit even this level of manipulation. The slightest disfiguration was unmistakeable indication that my father was changing into a thing. Ever since, I have remained in the grip of that desperate, deep darkness I glimpsed in the narrow slits between the lips. When looking through them into the dark of the small cavity of only about 1,500 cubic centimeters enclosed by the skull, I felt as if I were peering down into the ocean deep. This illusion bewildered me, and led to a number of subsequent paintings, such as 'I Can't See Anything Anyway'.