This is an old story:
an artist’s hands
working to ease the rigid corpse
rebirthed through mottled shadows;
the dangerous pulse of vermillion
in oblivion’s maw.
We say we know how this ends –
nightmare or dream
this hovering at the cusp,
an almost-touch –
But canvas after canvas we try again:
the mastery of art
the possibility of form
from the sludge of miasma –
the impenetrable space –
beyond the canvas or deep
in its hidden folds –
the suction of encroaching dark.
In response to The Raising of Lazarus by Walter Sickert, 1929, Islington, London.
Oil on wallpaper, detached then laid on canvas, 243.5 x 91.5 cm. Gift of William Bowmore AO OBE
through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 1990, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
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