BAD LUCK BUDDY
What tree do you want to be when you are older, when you are no longer, when your matter is no longer yours? In fact, did it ever belong to you? An irrelevant question now that the particles that once formed your body distance themselves from one another and submit to entropy, the breath that kept you alive is carried away by the same wind that moves the branches and leaves.
Nat Meade’s paintings are like small gems – contained in size but with shimmer and shadows deep within. They contain transcendental questions – those of life, death and nature, those of entropy and the dissolution of the body. The close-ups of his characters, all of whom are men with long hair and beards, bring us moments of existential intimacy in which the presence of the elements stands out: earth, air, fire and water are all around us, taking different forms and giving us the context in which these experiences take place.
At times, Nat Meade’s characters lack a body and are just a head with closed eyes, but a head that is gently gathered and supported by everything that surrounds it. They are timeless, just born and at the same time already old. What do those closed eyes see? It is difficult to say, but it is clear that they live in a vast inner world as much as they live in the outer world. Nature protects and envelops them, or, in time, becomes the place of their inevitable decay. Their relationship with nature is intimate and complex. In the artist’s words, “natural forms and forces are a way of indicating that the world is happening to and around them- wind is blowing by, flowers and leaves swirling around. Also, time is passing.”1
Time passes in the small gems. A face sinks into the grass until it disappears into it. The texture of the beard and the bark of a fallen tree merge in the same landscape. The wind carries away the exhalation in the form of white smoke and makes the flowers petals dance. Blue tears fall from half-open eyes while, elsewhere, a reddish face with a serene gaze submerges itself into a lake that returns its own reflections… Even if the characters sometimes appear to have forgotten their own bodies or have gotten rid of them, it is impossible to ignore the vibrant materiality of these paintings. The artist often chooses media such as wood, hemp, linen or jute. In other words, resilient surfaces that withstand the process of appearance and disappearance of the images, which take shape little by little, as if in waves, emerging from the process.
Donna Haraway recently wrote that we are children of compost and that, much as we must learn to live, we must also learn to die:
“Mixed-up times are overflowing with both pain and joy (…) The task is to make kin in lines of inventive connection as a practice of learning to live and die well with each other in a thick present. Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places.”2
Destruction, after all, is a condition for creation, not only in art, but also in nature
– a universe of mycelium feeds from the decay of the forest. Nat Meade’s paintings aim at said task, gathering together emotions that are sometimes contradictory while providing us, through our contemplation of them, with a thick present and a quiet place, in which perhaps, just perhaps, it is possible to learn to live and to die.
Nat Meade, unpublished interview with the artist, Juanuary 2021.
Haraway, Donna. Seguir con el problema: generar parentescos en el Chthuluceno. Bilbao: Consonni, 2019. Págs. 19-20. (Spanish edition)
Esmeralda Gómez Galera