And there we were, thinking we had seen it all. Funny how you can be unknowingly full of yourself sometimes. I guess life does that to you. But that’s the way it started really, we thought we had done it all, seen it all; we thought we were on top. And above anything else, we thought the world was ours for the taking.
The group was never a fixed thing. Some would come, stay a few months, few years, then leave. Newbies would in turn replace them and sort of do the same. We were the only four to always be there. Just us, the rest was superfluous if I may say. It started out from a really insignificant thing : a failed painting was taken to be a great piece of art by a couple of dudes who claimed they knew what they were talking about. They made such assumptions based on the loose fact that they had been to private schools, earn degrees and yada yada yada. We were never sure of whom those men really were, but they kept mentioning us to a bunch of people, the right people, and we couldn’t complain.
One night in particular – the first we exploded, their word not mine, I’ll never forget. They threw a crazy dîner; not a diner, no, not a party, no. But a dîner. Fancy. Elite. Everything. We came in wearing hoodies and ripped jeans and dirty shoes and backwards caps and long hair and beards, and everyone was delighted. The new generation copying the old generation. This generation’s group of Beats. The Beats that beat the Beats. All that crap was served all night long, and truthfully, we only paid attention to the champagne bottles and the publishing mentions. I got near the table with all the amazing food, and a couple of them came from the other side. They told me they liked me, liked my style, my way of painting the body and penetrating the souls. I had something of Munch they said, something of Magritte too, but they couldn’t really figure out what it was. Does that make me some sort of bastard? I asked. They laughed and it attracted more people.
Quickly I felt like vomitting, and by the end of the night I did. A case of bad oysters I think, but them, they weren’t convinced. They told everyone, and so did the press, that I was high or drunk, or both, that we all were. Whatever. That got us to an unexpected level. The defiant morons, the genius you never understand, the real artists. They were so happy with that creation, they gave us money and published us and offered us spaces in galleries and made us even more famous. We’d never touched drugs, we wore DARE t-shirts all the time. Some of us used to be straightedge. But they didn’t care; the truth never counts in those moments.
Our first night in the gallery was something special too. And that’s why I’m telling you all this. Don’t get fooled by any of it : the bright lights, the wine, the sweet talking and the money. Watch out for it. They like to burn their heroes just as much as they love to push them forward. That night, we were all ready. And stressed, too. We drew out a couple of old paintings we did, a bunch of texts cut up too. There was music in the background and we thought we would encourage people to check out local artists, smaller bands, dudes that wouldn’t get anywhere TVs or radio stations. They all came in like crazy – it looked like a sales day. Is this celebrity? asked Travis. Someone muttered, flock you. We didn’t pay attention.
We got several reviews in the papers, all of them bad. Mostly. It was all about us being too snob, poshy, pseudo rebellious, Nirvana emulating psychos. We didn’t understand any of it, and asked for answers. There were none. Lines were shut, people were absent, in meetings, refusing to meet. We were not fashionable anymore, for a very obscure reason. Some of us left the group indefinitely after that; the rest just went on trying. Some of us finally found a certain level of accomplishment : they live off of their art and that’s the whole point of it. But don’t expect more. Don’t look for more. And if it happens; don’t look back in anger.