‘We went to New York,’ Kathy said.
‘Colin was painting well then, and he was
on the edge of a breakthrough, he said.
Breakdown was more like it. He was drinking,
smoking a lot of dope. He’d sit on the floor
and stare at his work, and talk about his soul.
Why are men full of shit? He painted
big canvases, twelve feet across,
red, black and purple zigzags,
then he’d blacken them with a blowtorch—
trying to face up to the Americans,
he said. The way he talked about it,
it was like a boy’s competition
down at the bottom of a schoolyard,
kids punching each other on the arm,
proving they could take the punishment.
You know, with Jackson Pollock, that
investment in the ego —prove yourself,
throw your soul onto the canvas,
one false step and you’re a phoney.
But that’s bullshit. You can make
as many false steps as you want;
if a piece doesn’t work, you just
throw it out, or scrape it back
and paint something better over it.’