|Abel Parrish + Fenrir (devourer) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-03-06 17:22:00
|Entry tags:||fenrir, thoth|
a poem based on a work of art is called an ekphrasis
Who: Faisal & Abel.
What: Two old college "buddies" run into each other at an LA art gallery.
Where: 111 Minna Gallery.
When: Feb. 24
The tall, thin man wended his way through the crowd, deftly parting bodies with a light touch of his shoulder, or a hand on the small of someone's back. When he'd first heard about the exhibit -- a collection of artwork penned by those describing their mental illnesses -- Abel had made a note to attend on opening day. Apparently, so had half of Los Angeles; there were so many bodies packed into the tight space that he thought they were starting to form a line out the door and down the block. Yuppies were always curious about something of this nature, that freak show curiosity creeping into their minds. Abel couldn't completely fault them; he was there for nearly the same reason, though he did have the minor excuse of his chosen career.
He paused in front of one painting, of something that looked like a figure walking down a set of stairs, holding its own dismembered head in one hand as its eviscerated innards spilled down the steps before it. Blood and organs littered the floor, and rolling amongst these, a huge, upside down beetle with a human face that looked nearly childlike. The disembodied head glowed, and a straggly beard wrapped around the fingers holding it. Abel peered at the piece, sections of it speaking to a part of him that was not in the least bit clinical.
Unlike many there, Faisal’s interest in the show sprang from a curiosity that was genuine rather than merely morbid. Almost any form of art was guaranteed to catch his attention, but this was something else entirely. There were meanings in these pieces far beyond what a quick glance might show and the notion of the hidden or secret intrigued him like few other things could.
The painting that Abel had stopped at in particular seemed to draw less attention than most, probably due to the unorthodox, violent subject matter. Faisal, though, had been standing near it for the better part of ten minutes, head cocked slightly to one side as he puzzled over it. The presence of another onlooker was noticed, yet beyond shifting to the side slightly to accommodate him, Faisal made no real acknowledgement of the other man’s presence. Maybe it was his past few years spent in Great Britain. Maybe it was his own dislike of being interrupted while thinking. Either way, he said nothing. Nonetheless, there was something familiar about the newcomer and he found himself glancing across to him every now and then as well, trying to place a name to the face.
Abel took no issue to having to break the ice; it was both part of his profession, and a requirement in his other hobby.
"What do you take away from it?" A riff on the and how does that make you feel, but it was a conversation starter as much as anything else. He didn't immediately recognize the other man, though he did notice the glances. Maybe he just had one of those faces.
Taken off guard, Faisal started slightly at the sudden question. There was something about that voice, about the questioning, that was just as strangely familiar as his looks. He had heard it before, but where? How do you feel? What do you think? Why? It called to mind the sort of questions a psychologist might ask, but the only time he had come close to seeing one was back in college. His first instinct was to say that it couldn’t possibly be the same man, that it was a coincidence even more bizarre than running into Daniel after years apart. But at the same time, the feeling of general unease and being put on the spot was too much to ignore, especially when combined with that face and presence.
“It makes me wish I knew more about the artist.” His eyes narrowed, head tilting a bit again in mild confusion. “I’m sorry, but, do I know you?”
Abel turned completely from the painting, looking the man full in the face. He honestly couldn't place him, but his moves around the country had put him in front of so many people.
"Recently moved here, so if you're a local, maybe I just look like someone you know." He offered a small smile to that end. "Otherwise, I've been in Massachusetts. Does that ring a bell?"
“Were you by any chance at Harvard? Around a decade ago, maybe a little more?”
It didn’t seem as though there was a polite way of telling another person that they looked uncannily like a counselor you had seen as a teenager, so for now Faisal was continuing his attempt to be coy and step around the subject rather than broach the (admittedly, still rather preposterous sounding) idea outright. If only he could remember what the older man’s name had been.
Abel's gaze narrowed, studying this man's face more intently. "I was. A psychology graduate. Were you in my class? No offense, but you seem a little young."
“None taken. I was an undergraduate.” Though, admittedly, a slightly younger than usual one. “I think I may have spoken to you though. Did you intern while you were there? As a counselor?” To be fair, Faisal was already 99% certain that it was the same man. The fact that he had been a psychology graduate had sealed that. But it never hurt to ask for confirmation.
The other man's head bobbed, stark curiosity dawning on his face. "I did, a little. If you'll pardon the expression, what were you in for?" It was clear he was already spinning through his mental rolodex, trying to put a name to the face he was staring at. "If it helps, I'm Abel Parrish. Is that the name you're thinking of?" Part of him wondered just how much this young man remembered of him; if the age range was right, he didn't believe he had anything to worry about. Still, he hated leaving loose ends.
“It is, thank you. Faisal Negm,” he offered, holding out his hand and looking not so very far removed from the scrawny nineteen year old he had been a decade ago. Better dressed and more self-assured, but essentially the same. A deliberate nonentity. “I was pre-med at the time. There had been an accident and a professor recommended speaking with someone.” How bland and everyday he could make a week of not sleeping in the wake of his roommate’s death and ensuing mild hallucinations seem. But to his mind it was. After all, it was college. Everyone got stressed at some point.
The vague details did little to jog Abel's memory, but then again, he rarely took notice of someone with whom he didn't feel some sort of connection. The smile on his face was welcoming and warm all the same, doing what he could to seem jovial at the seeming reunion. Abel took Faisal's hand in a firm grip, shaking it, and removing the touch just as quickly.
"It looks like you've held up well since then. What brings you from there to here? Here being the west coast in general, or L.A. specifically, if you prefer."
The other man had no clue who he was. It didn’t take a genius to see that, though Faisal’s rather finely tuned sense for bullshit did help some. But he didn’t say anything about it, just continued being almost preternaturally polite and inoffensive as he continued to scrutinize Abel. “After some time in the UK, I was offered a research position at UCI.” Extremely recently, but that didn’t need mentioning. “And yourself?”
Abel's brows rose in true surprise. "Across the pond; very nice. I'd like to get there myself one day. I was in Mass for some time, actually, and recently moved out here. I have family here." It was a swift, precise explanation, one that allowed for more discussion, and one that neatly hid the real reason he had returned to his birthplace. "Currently working with the court system." He nodded at the artwork they'd previously been perusing. "Is this related to your research?"
“Possibly, if one looked at it the right way,” Faisal said with a bit of a smile. The idea hadn’t really occurred to him before, but now that it had been presented it seemed to have certainly tickled his fancy. His mind was preoccupied with a whole new range of possible connections, even as he continued speaking with Abel. “But that wasn’t my intention. I’m here solely as an art-lover, not as a geneticist.”
A soft nod with raised brows met Faisal's answer, Abel's face the perfect picture of consideration though he could not have cared less.
"It's certainly food for thought. There are a dozen psychological portraits to choose from with artwork like this," he replied, glancing at the piece in question before his gaze returned to his conversational partner. "Is this the usual sort of thing you seek out, as an...art lover?"
The question was a simple one, but Faisal still paused for a long moment, considering it fully before answering mildly, “I try not to limit myself. This sort of thing is just as fascinating as a sunset or a still life. If not more so really.”
Abel had to agree, though he found this particular gallery far more fascinating than a landscape or bowl of fruit. He nodded to the next painting over, urging his newfound fellow art goer in that direction through the crowd. The image was black and white, a pencil sketch of a well-coiffed, porcelain-faced doll holding a box. The box's lid was wide open, and out streamed a thick cloud of faces, each wearing a varied expression ranging from extreme joy to utter despair. The doll sat within another box, which was only denoted by a small corner of starry night sky showing the edges of her case; the walls of the box had childlike drawings on them, a secondary, more rash rendering of the same doll.
"What do you think about that one?"
Faisal let himself be directed easily enough through the crowd, content to follow the other man’s lead. “Honestly?” His head cocked as he looked at the piece, vaguely birdlike in his concentration. “I prefered the last. This is too--” He waved a hand briefly in the air, as if he could magically pluck the correct word from the ether. “--too easy. The other may have been more objectively unpleasant, but there was more room for thought and interpretation within it. There was no immediate logic or meaning. But that’s just my opinion. You?”
"Schizophrenia might be the initial analysis," Abel replied, his arms crossing loosely in front of him. "I've been trying to pinpoint what the various illnesses might be, between the paintings. The last one was disassociative disorder, at least in my opinion; this one could also edge on multiple personality. But you're right, it's far less creative." Abel certainly didn't care for the doll, either, but that was neither here nor there in this conversation. He considered the young man again for a moment.
"Well, it was nice seeing you again. My apologies for not wholly recognizing you; quite a small world, in the end. If you're ever in need of a psychologist, you know where to find me."