Hemingway's La Mar (or; Port/Portal), 2004

Jojo Soria de Veyra. Hemingway's La Mar (or, Port/Portal). Pastel on paper, 2004 [LOST WORK]

June 2004
Tacloban City.

Dear Cel. I wish I had the money now to be able to frame this other pastel work (very small one) that I also finished late May (or was it early June?). Initially I called it "Night Swimming", because it's a portrait of a mother (with another woman) with a baby and a bag posing in front of a large portal or arch behind which is a moonlit bay. The portal or arch is actually that of Malolos' Barasoain Church, but I turned it into a mysterious or surrealist arch right beside a beach. The mother is you (or you're the model, I painted this from a fragment of a photo, that fragment showing you, Gabo in your arms, my sister Adette behind you).
    I was attracted to the fragment for two reasons. Because of the blackness in the photo backgrounding the mother, I'd once again be able to say what I need to say about our mothers' black hair, here a blackness that melds into the blackness beyond the archway. Same with the baby's hair, Gabo's black hair.
    The other reason was this: because this was a photo fragment, zooming in resulted in an Impressionist effect that I liked. Therefore this became not a portrait of you and Gabo and Adette in front of a portal to a sea in the background. This is now just a portrait of any like-looking tourist trio.
    Oh, one other thing. I kind of liked the Virgin Mary effect the arch had on the mother in the center, creating a grotto-like composition, shattered only by another figure's presence (Adette's) coming out of that grotto "cave". A Marian mother-and-child piece, then? Or, can you see a Moses-like allusion with a recall of a Nile-to-the-palace progression? But the color of the baby bag hanging from the mother's shoulder, and the color that I used for the arch to complement the mother's blue, emulates the official assignation of the light cobalt or cerulean blue color on the Virgin Mary. Thus perhaps this is more useful as a piece referencing the Catholic context than any Jewish thing.
    So now may I call this painting "Birhen"? Nah, that would be too ambitious, the picture being vague towards that direction. "Port / Portal" is more like it, or "Hemingway's La Mar," referencing Hemingway's simile involving woman and sea and moon in The Old Man and the Sea. With this final title, our piece now points to a kind of arrival, wherein the darkness of death and the limitless sea and night behind is acknowledged, whilst women and babies foreground a future of life.



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