reluctance to draw from life

“Why am I so reluctant to draw from life, and why do I look for any excuse not to? It’s hard to tell the truth about anything, or to portray oneself in terms of something else. What I try to do is to say with painting something more than what the eye sees. My paintings are not so much paintings in themselves as parts of a table, objects of a drawing able, the painter’s work table. The pencils and other things I do are there to say that this is not a painting of mine but a painting by someone else, maybe a painting by ‘that painter’ but not by me. In that case, I’m more an orchestra conductor than a painter doing a painting. My work says something about something else, if it’s painting it says something about painting, not about the fact that this is what it is. If I use a rubber stamp on the painting, I do it to show that this paint is not real paint, it’s a symbol of the thing painted, just as the stamp is a symbol of the man. I’m not sure whether this is a sign of modesty or the reverse.”

(Saul Steinberg & Aldo Buzzi, Reflections and Shadows, trans. John Shepley, p. 71.)

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