Another theme of Kitaj’s Jewish commentarism is the esoteric. Behind the flat surface lies a depth of meaning—but meaning is not the right word. It’s easy to see how this can work in figurative art, but in abstraction less so. Nevertheless it’s right on the mark for my work, which I always intended should look easy and be difficult. One writer he likes to cite is Abraham Joshua Heschel, and pulls out some very interesting remarks. I’ve heard of Heschel, and in fact have one of his books, but I’ve never actually read him, being as I am allergic to moralizing and to the fine thoughts of religion. Here is something Kitaj found:
“The East European Jews had a predilection for elliptic sentences, for the incisive, epigrammatic form, for the flash of the mind, for the thunderclap of an idea. They spoke briefly, sharply, quickly and directly; they understood each other with a hint; they heard two words where only one was said.”
This reminds me of my own work but also of the work of a friend—Jeff Tutt, an artist who lives in Toronto. Looks simple—but that’s just the result.