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A Painter's Apocalypse


By Fred Piechoczek


For Julian the story always began with the first stroke of the brush upon his canvas. If only it could have been he who had made that first stroke this time, this story would have been different, as many other stories have been. Would he ever paint again? 

Just three months before, in the famous Paris spring, he was in a small hotel in the Marais overlooking a square. Julian had always been a lover of capturing the real, the moment, the atmosphere. His room had that garish larger-than-life flowery wallpaper and the stale smell that led him to suspect it was rented by the hour during his absence. And yet, the double windows and wrought iron railings giving onto the square fascinated him, the life below. He set up his easel and stared; he  prepared his paints and stared, indecisive. He busied himself with his brushes. 

It is sometimes the smallest things that change our lives: a clogged paint brush, cleaned, in need of a rinse, degreasing. 

It was not that he was captivated by her, when she came up to bring him that minute bar of cheap soap he had requested. It was probably no more than polite thanks that he expressed. Perhaps it was simply that she was Parisian and interested in art, even if as old as his mother, but it was she who challenged him to reproduce the print on the wall. It was she who laughingly placed that first bright, bright yellow brushstroke of the Sunflowers upon his canvas. 

No one can sell that particular "original" van Gogh, however good the rendering. But that was three months ago – there are other paintings. Even Julian could become a rich man. 

Reflecting now in his jail cell, a vision of a painting formed in his mind. In it he saw himself, Julian the principal figure, beside him Eve, and his own disdainful gesture towards the serpent, while not yet perceiving the white-bearded fury of his God.

A Painter's Apocalypse

The Gates of Hell

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