Picture this in your mind, you're sitting in a fine dinning restaurant in Sydney, Australia, across from you is a good looking single person who you met in New Zealand during your solo art exhibition, the person bought two original paintings and three archival prints of your work to add to their art collection, through conversation you find out they are a high profile lawyer and lives in a mansion located in Balmain, Sydney.
The entire time you speak to the person you feel as though, it feels like you're on a date, it doesn't feel like business, you feel like maybe they want more from you by the end of the evening, perhaps to unveil some fantasy to sleep with "the artist" you start to think to yourself... was this the persons agenda all along? or perhaps this is what they do when they buy art from people... or maybe there is something you are both missing?
Awkwardness has never been something I've been good at.
Imagination aside, this was a real life scenario, I knew the man for about an hour conversation at my art show several months prior, and that was it. Then I received an email about a month later from the art gallery, stating he had bought 5 pieces of works from my show, and he asked if I could fly to Sydney to help hang the art on his walls, I agreed to fly to Sydney to meet him, nothing felt strange about it, I'd done this for clients before.
This was my first stop of my travels.
His home was grand, a large Victorian 3 story mansion, views over Sydney harbor, pool etc. He had a driver who picked me up at the airport. I arrived and the home was gob smackingly beautiful, it was the stuff dreams are made of, he was there to greet me, champagne and canapes upon arrival, all a bit fancy, I loved it. Me, wine and food are like best friends, as you'll discover in this blog series.
I noticed pictures of two kids, university age, hanging in the entry foyer, I suspected he was gay so I was surprised to see kids, turns out he is a Dad, his ex wife is now his best friend he explained to me, and now she lives in a city apartment that she received in there divorce. He seemed reasonably open to speak.
As we spoke he chatted about a guy he was dating for three years, they were recently broken up, and it turns out the man he loved, lived a double life. Now we had something in common to talk about apart from art I thought. Seemingly though we didn't talk much about anything else apart from art and trying to get to know each other.
We walk inside into another room and I see my paintings tidily ready to be hung on the wall, I start to remember them... it had been few months since I saw them, there is something almost maternal when you sell an original piece of art or print, I feel innately that I want my art to be valued not just because of its monetary value but that the person connects to the work with sincerity and love, like I do.
Art has been my love language for most of my life, whether it was through painting or design, it was always my way of communicating as well as writing. I've never been a very confident speaker in large situations, and even now I struggle unless I'm well prepared, I've struggled with large social groups for most of my life and I am an introvert at heart, but over the years I have learnt to become a better public speaker, now its not a problem for me to share my mind and being more social. Most of that derived from a pretty hellish time being bullied from a young age, like many people who go through the same trauma you learn to hide what you think and feel or even allow your personality to show, whether it would be liked or not was besides the point, it was fear that if someone didn't like what you said, or what you wore, or how you acted, or looked, that if you didn't just accept it without fighting, take the punches and say nothing to anyone, otherwise it would only get worse.
Art, design and writing was the first and only time that I had a voice that people listened too, and I mean really listen too, however the business of Art is a bitter sweet reality, I was pleased that the 2.5m x 1.8m packages had arrived at there new home safely.
The home itself however felt empty apart from one of the best private art collections I had ever seen in someone's home, it was a huge space and it really needed all the art it could hold so the walls could sing, and bring lively energy into the home. I sometimes feel it's more like injecting the Artists energy into the lives and space where ever the art ends up hanging. The architecture and beautifully renovated contemporary juxtaposition with the ornate Victorian traditional details, was art in itself, but wall art and sculpture invigorate something entirely transcendental. The walls were perfectly cleaned by staff, lights installed, I noticed some originals he had, were created by some of my favorite artists of all time who have passed, and some who are still alive and creating, for me it was easy to be swept away by the majesty of it all.
He loved art, that was for sure, he was so well educated, I struggled to keep up with the amount of knowledge he had in his head. It flowed seamlessly like an encyclopedia.
The 2 originals he bought we hung together, with one other staff member operating a laser light, the three prints he would install by himself at his holiday home. Once we were done, immediately the conversation subject changed... a second bottle of champagne opened. We walked outside with our bare feet on the white marble tiles over looking Sydney harbor, the pool glistening turquoise to the side, and the sun beaming, Sydney shining it all its glory.
What a life I thought... Then I thought I'm not sure why I was there if he had staff to hang the art by themselves.
The topic of discussion is now about life.
I asked him almost inappropriately and randomly while we spoke about being single, and me now choosing to travel the world and find myself and in doing so putting my art and design career on hold... I asked "do you find it lonely to be a gay man in a grindr / tinder obsessed world?"
"The opposite" he said.
I asked because by this point I'd been single almost a year, I'd been on a few dates, hook ups and really felt like the dating world had changed since the last 7 years, By now I had met some pretty out there strange people which really questioned my value system and finding any intimate connection which I craved almost hopelessly, I did however meet three people that I guess if I lived in the same post code, may have been able to spend more time getting to know them, but it just wasn't my reality, at least without making a sacrifice for, which I wasn't prepared to do, at least not at that point and being so freshly single.
For me love is something I needed to breathe and for it to be so passionate and consuming that my sensory of life would taste differently and my world would change in a good way because of it.
The Art man didn't have such a romanticized view, his responsibilities were far greater than mine, which I understood, my own pilgrimage was a Nobel idea, travel the world until I found my own peace! I know not everyone believes in my ideas merely as much I do, and that's ok. His romantic idea of love was now based on passion of making him feel good and being in an open relationship. This was what he wanted, at least at the time, because since he broke up with his ex, he decided that the hetero normative instilled in gay culture is cultivated out of an illusory subjective idea that gay is just the same as straight. But we all know it's not, it's not better or less than... it's that people who view the idea of love differently and now for the purposes of cohesion we are trying to push a narrative where most people, even gay people don't know that the basis of gay history which has been built on a the foundations of a subversive and underbelly of society, because people were not accepted. They were bashed by religious groups who influence political agendas, and created a social culture of fear, now we are living in a time in history where the construct of gay rights is mostly an undoing of what was an unacceptable. However during certain parts of our history the expression of love and sexual orientationwas fluid and open, men would still marry a woman and play the role of a husband but also have one or more sexual partners, either male or female, that stimulated sexual arousal that bought great pleasure. The Art Mans opinion was decided based on trying to understand what he wanted vs what social norms would perfer him to do. The difference between sex and a relationship, albeit his rationale was based entirely on his own recent heartbreak with a man, he found his light at the end of the tunnel, and he was happy to move past his pain into something he could navigate, control and rationalize on some level.
I really understood his point of view and shared exactly the same opinion, but I had a different rationale that I believed in. I studied gay history and the conflict of interest religion has had in history, which speaks for itself now in a time where the narrative of being any part of the LGBTQ community, has become politically, socially and religiously profiled and used strategically to be come a more progressive society, and it's working well for those country's open to put in the work to make it safer for all people, the LGBTQ community has been accepted more openly across the globe. But there is still more to do and understand. It's important even if you are not directly affected or apart of a persons life who is gay or part of LGBTQ community, that where you are different in anyway we need to be more open, inclusive and accepting of everyone whether we agree or not.