Friday, July 18, 2008

The Man Whose Portrait Is Painted Twice a Week

His lips pursed, his eyes like buttons, small and black, the man poses for a portrait. Turn this way just a bit, says the painter, no, no, not that much, just a bit, yes, there, perfect. The man is now posed properly.

Twice a week the man poses for his portrait to be painted. Each time it is with a different painter, yet each time it is completed to the same effect, that is, unsatisfactorily. It is too lifelike, he will complain about one, or My hair isn’t robust enough. In any case, none of the portraits come out quite right, and thus twice a week this man must pose in front of yet another painter.

A woman is painting this one. Women, the man says, can never paint me properly. He says this before she has even finished, and lo and behold, when the painting is finally executed, it is deemed an improper representation of our man. Trash, the man says. Trash and rubbish and totally, fundamentally not right. He lifts one of his furry, indelicate fingers and points towards a door: Get out, he commands, now.

As the woman leaves she begins sobbing. What a brute, she thinks, who could possibly be expected to paint such an awful brute? And this question, though asked in humiliated rage, is quite just: who could paint such an awful brute? Thus far, it would seem, not a soul has been up to the task.

No comments: