[ Portrait of a painter ]

The old painter is arranged in the leather armchair, his legs crossed elegantly and his customary cigarette held with practised, nonchalant poise.

"You know what Picasso said about photographers?",

I don't look up, I just continue loading the film into my camera.

"He said that all dentists want to be doctors and that all photographers want to be painters"

He delivers the line with a twist, the glance in search of a reaction.

"I always thought Picasso was a bit of an asshole", I reply.

The painter says nothing, just turns to look out of the window with measured disinterest while drawing smoke into his narrow chest. It is then that I notice how the shape and contours of his face have honed themselves around the act of smoking, exaggerating his hawkishness. He is elegant in the manner of an antique letter opener: ornate, theatrically threatening, singular in purpose and ultimately from another time.

"You still use film?", he asks as I click home the Bronica's casing.

"Yes", I reply

He cracks a thin smile that never reaches his eyes.
"Somewhat dated isn't it?",

I remove the lens cap, waiting a moment, letting my reply cool.

"Unlike oil painting?"

I kick myself for not being ready for the look that he flashes at me, but he gathers himself almost instantly and then regroups with his cigarette.

"Just take your damned photograph"

 

(C.King 2016)