I clearly remember an old bench, in the left corner of my backyard, under the old big walnut tree. My grandfather made it a very long time ago…it was a bench without nails, made of beechwood, painted in dark brown. Time and weather ate its way to the very core of the wooden planks, giving it that rustic, wisdom look. On that very bench for the first time, when I was 5, I saw a mask … a mask on my mother’s face. It was a mask of happiness which my mother regularly used in front of me … as I found out later, this mask is regularly used by most of the mothers all around the world. Not knowing the gravity and strength necessary for wearing it, I immediately liked it and even then I realized that happiness will be my weak point.
People love masks, they give them chance to avoid responsibility for spoken words, they give them a power of control. I like them too. They give me a possibility to live different lives, they reflect a parallel universe in which I can hear, taste and feel all kind of emotions and be shielded from them at the same time. This kind of life gives you control over thoughts, words, situations and most important it gives you control over an image that you create and reflect your surroundings. A complexity and effectiveness of one’s mask do not depend on the simple intelligence, it depends on a mixture of emotional intelligence, life experience and psychological affinity.
In my self-awareness moments, that usually crawl up to me just before dawn breaks, my self-psychoanalysis starts to sculpt a physical form of my masks, they vary from Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’avignon, to René Magritte’s The Lovers, from Noh masks to Anonymous. I choose form according to the situation I’m in and the person I sit next to.
I’ve met a few people without them, I can recognize them by the special energy that they emitting, energy consisted of unconfined freedom, strength and lack of compromises. I like them, I like being in their company, I also envy them. I even try to be like them, to bare myself, to open to the world … I endure for three days and then life finds a way to sting me and I hide, like a turtle, in one of my many armours.
Disappointed for failing, I tell myself that my masks have a purpose, the same as the purpose of ritual ones, to keep a distance from the bad spirits, i.e. bad people.
In a constant search for happiness, I’ve changed my masks, trying to gather the strength to face the life in its ugliest forms and stay true to my bare self.
And one day, the change happened… I remember that moment as it was now.. a woman sitting on the bench, in my backyard, under the old walnut tree and a radiant smile on the boy’s face, a genuine emotion, that escapes every mask and shine its way out through every layer of life, through every layer of paint…..yes, on the rough canvass, placed on the old easel, in a dusty, cold basement, I found my happiness… I’ve beaten my masks by simply painting them.