Interview With Jaisini
…we went upstairs into a spacious studio. The invigorating, nutty smell of oil paint delighted my senses. It seemed as if I had stepped inside of the painting itself. The enormous room dissolved the concentrated scent of oil paints and transformed into Asian perfume. Stepping inside an artist's studio every time put me into the position of Alice in Wonderland. Surrounded by scattered paintings, brushes, pallets, paint tubes, roles of canvases, and sketch pads, I was searching for the special conversational piece. If I could only find the right piece, which would be the artist's favourite, I knew it would break the ice. The first painting that caught my attention put me suddenly under hypnosis and I don't recall for how long I was staring at it, whether it was a minute or an hour. This is not, in any way, an exaggeration but a real-live experience. Evidently, Jaisini noticed that I was trapped by one of his paintings and broke the silence.
-Do you like that piece, or are you looking for a starting point to criticize it? However it is, I welcome your criticisms rather than flattery.
-Your painting develops in my mind like photosensitive paper in a developer. On second thought, I sense an aesthetic pleasure from just the color harmony, but I still need more time-I said.
-No problem, take your time while I finish a sketch.
I had to postpone the interview in order to get a better look at the painting that captured me. The artist put on some classical music. I began taking notes about what I had seen while he was silently sketching. As time flew by, it was getting dark outside and the music ended long ago. I glanced at the watch and realized that 4 hours had already elapsed and I didn't even start the interview. Jaisini was still concentrating on his work and it was obvious that I should've called it a day. Setting the convenient time for tomorrow I left.
…we met at the café.
I could tell that Jaisini was in a good mood and the interview has a better chance today. Perhaps his work went well, I thought. Jaisini greeted me as someone he had already befriended….
-Positively, the painting I was contemplating in your studio sticks to my mind.
-It happens to many. I like this cafe. It is always so picturesque. The people here make it colorful. For example, do you see that waitress?
-The small blonde?
-Yes, her name is Nancy. Three years ago she told me that she wanted to become famous and in her free time she writes a script for a movie, convincing me that it will be the first script of its kind, a love story based on her memoir.
Jaisini smiled charmingly, adding:
-Oh, no, I am not joking. I believe in her. Once I invited her to the studio, as she seemed like such a peculiar person. I was just finishing my painting called "Organ Grinder". She declared frankly and firmly: "I want this picture. How much?" I explained to her that I don't sell paintings. Then I experienced certain chemistry. When such a "simple" person, but still the one who writes the script, says: "I want the "Organ Grinder", it was the strangest thing. I didn't like the painting one bit and after that, all of a sudden, I started seeing it in a different light of something very pure and divine. She wanted so badly to own the picture that she induced her desire on me. I think that to create this "divine" we have to get down with people, declass to become simple and understand art with awe. Even though Gleitzeit is not for simple people, it can be understood by a mailman who asked me for an autograph, by an immigrant who came to the US to earn money, or by a priest from England who told me that this art is for intellectuals, not for ambitious people who say, "I understand this art while others don't.".
-Do you think that your pictures relate to people as if they are puzzles of human life?
-When a man is awake, a man is asleep; everything encloses. And when you enclose your line you create the reality in which the man truly exists not knowing that he is entrapped in a secluded world of his own doing which he cannot escape. The enclosed line may provoke the desire to breakout, to find an exit.
-The question arises, what is fine art now and who needs it? The elite?
-Yes, but simple people crave art too if a mailman asked me for my autograph on a postcard after I had to explain him about the picture he saw. Before I explained the painting the man felt scared of breaking his head over it. It is understandable when in schools art is taught as an entertainment, not as a psychological significance, a process of growth, a visualization of today's reality, an analysis of social life and ancient history, or the world's history that brought people to the technical progress.
-To build a family is more important for that man.
-Yes, he understands his purpose of trying to build a family of five with eighteen grandchildren. A simple man's genetic structure is of a turtle's and is directed to one, laying eggs by any means and returning in a year through six thousand miles across the ocean to lay eggs again at the same place. But pay attention that bravado of the civilized world brings a realization that everything is a sham. Real is what is encoded by nature; real is when you see a beautiful ocean, a beautiful sunrise, or the grace of a horse. This is real.
-Then what is fine art? Is fine beautiful or good?
-Beautiful. It began from nature, from the copying of beautiful bodies of people and horses.My main direction in art is most progressive, to achieve in composition the grace of color combinations, an intellectual color climax, tone, contrast, and so on. The idea of the painting unites in itself everything we see in the real world, but in an intricate, puzzle-like concept.
-Art in America is a tendency for immediate recognition. The remembrance is strictly visual since there was no comprehension. First they want to see that it's different. What about Gleitzeit, how do you see this visual effect expressed?
-A simple person, either a lady florist, my tennis partner, or a teenage cowboy comes to my studio and says: "I don't understand this art and I don't want to see it, it's not mine. When the lady florist starts seeing some figures in a painting, she shouts "I see! Look! Look! I see it now!" like a child. A man denies what he doesn't understand as an immediate reaction. A simple man is brought up on the understanding of natural grace. He doesn't assimilate it in an abstract way. He sees an egg and a hen and points out which is the egg and the hen. In my picture he can't say that this is an egg and this is a hen at first. Moreover, he can't say what came first, the egg or the hen. He sees something very simple or very complicating. The man refuses to do an effort. Slowly, not even slowly, but pretty quickly the man can transform if he learns.
-Do you want to change the process of art cognition? The judgment is not based on the appearance since 'we've seen all there is to see' with and without philosophy, like when they sell us Coca-Cola they tell us about the transcendental. We are understanding folks. Do you want this "flat" cognition to change?
-A man is looking for an escape. I try to attach him to a thread in the picture, which is twisted, to untangle it. What is next? Did he learn something? Yes, and he also begins to understand abstraction after the knot is undone. This is flexitime. Will the work turn blank? No, since it still has an idea. If it would be an automated drawing by a schoolchild that may look like something there is no concept. In my art you have an idea and mastership. The key is the artist's mastership. A weak painting will not survive. What is left to the spectator is aesthetic pleasure and confidence.
-What if people ask you for a simpler art? Why do they have to untangle your art?
-I answer simply. It's not my doing and decision. I didn't decide it. The art critics said so, they who studied art all their life and read volumes of books. They say that they analyzed it and it has this and that meaning, non other. That an artist is a reflection of society.
-Do you consider yourself a reflection?
-No, I don't. Philosophers try to understand what is art and life. I only insist that grace will not diminish in value.
… and I caught myself on a thought that I wanted to know how the story with the scriptwriter waitress ended. If the painting is still in the artist's holdings I would like to see it to know why she wanted it so badly. And I asked…
From 45 hours of the Interview with Paul Jaisini in his New York studio. Interview by Ester Ippollito. Tape transcription and editing by Yustas Kotz-Gottlieb. Copyright New York City 2003