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FUSIONED - DIRECTED - WRITTEN AND CORRESPONDED BY: MENASSA 2002
DON'T KNOW HOW TO SPEAK BUT WE DO IT IN SEVERAL LANGUAGES
GRIS, IS A PRODUCT
INDIO GRIS Nº 98
WITH THE POET MIGUEL OSCAR MENASSA
Oscar Menassa: I started to paint
as everybody does, when I got in contact with my own shit, as it happens to
everybody, when I was a baby, but afterwards I had a certain… don't you see
that now I paint with gloves?, because I can't still get over…And afterwards,
to tell you the truth, I painted my first oil painting here in Spain. I'm a
painter of exile, not because I represent any exiled person, but I exiled myself
and then I started to paint. So, if someone wants to paint I advise them to
exile themselves, it's very simple, I want the best for humanity and as it was
good for me to exile myself…
speaking about a diversity of things, Rodolfo Alonso, who was a very important
poet for me, very respected and very dear to people, he even began asking
himself seriously that if I would have stayed in my country, who knows if I
would have written as I write, who knows if I would
have been able to paint. Perhaps the man was right.
want to say that I'm grateful to the Argentine military dictatorship to throw me
out of my country because in that way, they did me some good, according to very,
very cultured and intelligent sources, it was good for me, it had cost me some
pain but… It has been good for my writing, it has been good for my painting.
Cheers to exile!
You exiled yourself, but here you must have found someone who taught you your
first steps, or did you start painting spontaneously?
I woke up one morning and said to myself: I'm a painter, and I started to paint.
And whom do you consider to be your teachers in painting?
I don't want to lie to you, but go through two hundred museums in Europe,
Africa, if there is any, Asia and America, those are my teachers. Do you
understand what I'm saying? It's as if I would say to you: I have a favourite
poet and I tell you a name, I'm capable of telling you a name, but if you
research some more, in reality, the poets I like are around two thousand. One is
unkind, it is as if when you recall your girlfriends, you always remember two or
three girlfriends, or two or three boyfriends, when one should realise that all
the people who had any relationship with one have collaborated to one's
choose the bladder green (although the bladder is white), which is a green that
in its natural state is almost black. I draw a slanted line, I add a curve as if
it were a buttock, that later will be a tree and I draw a vertical line like
this and then I'm contented because I have stained the canvas. Do you understand
why I started to paint? I started to paint because if I wanted to marry a virgin
every day, my life would have been a scandal, I would have ended up in an
asylum, mad. Instead, I sit in front of the blank canvas and I stain that
virginity with a desire, because, in reality, one day I choose green, the next
day I choose blue… Do you understand what I'm saying? If you don't, please
The chance of combinations, I think that sometimes you use that phrase to talk
about writing. Could it be also applied to painting?
Well, now I think that I can't abandon writing, because I already have a social
commitment, but lately I have thought of giving it up, for painting of course.
To abandon poetry, a person who has already written three thousand poems, cannot
abandon poetry, Do you understand what I'm saying? But a poetic interest for
painting is surging, what you felt this morning when you were painting your
picture, you said: "Ah, I'm able finally to associate freely in
painting!" that is possible because the mechanism of production in painting
is exactly equal to the mechanism of production of poems.
How could that mechanism of production be summarised in painting? Is it as with
In the sense that it is unconscious production which has nothing to do with
knowledge, it has to do with knowing. Painting has to do with the unconscious
knowing, that's why when you ask, what maestro do you regard in painting?
Really, it comes to your mind ten, fifteen names. For me maestro are all those
who did a better work than I, before me, I have to learn something from all of
them. Because there are poets whom I like better than others, by the fact itself
of qualifying them as poets makes one learn something from them.
So mixing colours would be like mixing words.
Colours are significant like words, so the combination is infinite. For example,
I insist that Spanish language has a million words, it's a very rich language
and one could have the sexuality of a million words. In the computer, the other
day I looked for it, there are 1,300,000 shades of colours. Not all languages
have a million words like Spanish.
Did you mean to say that painting is a language or have I understood it wrongly?
There is only one language.
Like writing poetry, it happened to you with the painting you were doing this
morning, you did it feeling that you were associating freely, besides Miguel
chose the colours for you, that means that you didn't even choose the colours.
As a student of your workshop, until the last two or three paintings, I felt
that having ideas was like a jail, wanting to do something, the desire of
controlling the experience.
have talked, let's say,
about the similarities between the task of writing and the task of
painting, but, which would be the main difference between each task?
This is a very generalised question that I can't answer because I would surely
commit a mistake. I can tell you what happened to me, what is happening to me. I
don't know if it is well expressed this way, but I feel that I have more freedom
with painting. When I paint no one persecutes me, instead when I write I'm being
persecuted, to put it someway, by many poets.
The mixture of colours that you made in your first paintings seemed
scandalous, because of the freedom of choosing colours.
I think that the combination of colours isn't always satisfying, however that
doesn't mean that they can't be combined, with a little more of effort,
sometimes you obtain what you can't accomplish with the simple mixture. There is
a colour called "burnt sienna", that is one of the colours which I
like most and in which I have to put more effort to work with, I see that when
people use it the painting becomes a little smeared. It doesn't happen to me,
but for me, it takes a lot of effort to work with, instead
if you try mixing, for example, red, green with a black, you do this and
the painting is ready. With this green it isn't so easy, this is an emerald
Who guides the hand?
I was on the verge of answering you, God. In reality I have already told you,
the unconscious system. Let's say that the artist I am without knowing I am, the
artist who is unknown to me, that one. I think that art is repressed in the
states, that with all that nonsense they say about art, that such poet this,
that the writer that,
it seems to me that what they do is to repress the access to creation.
Because there must be an unconscious knowledge in the creators that if they open
the door to creation, five billion people would enter, no one would lose the
marvel of creation if we open the gates of creation. What happens is that they
are a little ajar, between the states and the own creators who think they have
been blessed by God…
You mean by this that creation is a possibility of any individual.
Yes, it is a sort of specialised work with a learning and using the appropriate
raw materials, studying a little, knowing, looking at things, having looked as
in poetry. If I know about the poetry that has been written up to my time, it's
much easier for me to write a good poem than if I think that there is poetry in
happens with all my things, happened to me with painting, I know that there are
a lot of scoundrels in the world, that everybody wants to live doing nothing,
from air, that everybody is super-exploited, that it is very difficult for an
artist to make money, that poets die in the obscure rooms of state hospitals
where they are badly looked after, I don't understand why. That from two hundred
painters in Madrid, there are only two who are doing well and the rest, enable
the owners of the galleries do well. I'm tired of reading El País newspaper
trying to find my name or the names of any of my companions, the great poets,
but really no one appears. Then, just as I went creating my own means of
diffusion, Las 2001 Noches (The 2001
Nights), Extension Universitaria (University Extension), El Indio Gris (The Grey
Indian) , I think that one has to paint, tarnish, frame, distribute and sell
on one's own. That under no circumstance any other person but the ones who work
in the conception of a painting should earn any money: the painter, the person
in charge of tarnishing, the person in charge of framing, the person in charge
of transportation, etc. I imagine that we are going to accomplish it, although
I'm evidently surrounded by very modern people who advise me that if I leave my
den I would do better than being locked in my den. What happens is that locked
in my den I was able to reach where I have reached. And then they show my
paintings in a Madrid gallery and, who's going to buy my paintings? The same
people who buy them in my gallery, or will the Madrid gallery bring me clients?
In this way my clients
buy in the Madrid gallery so that the owner of the gallery earns a
percentage… No. I prefer not to sell, instead of being preoccupied about what
heritage I will leave to you. What heritage will I leave you? I paint two or
per week and I leave them there.
melancholic reflection I've just made has nothing to do with reality, in reality
I sell paintings. I don't know if any other painter in Madrid has sold as many
paintings as I have , and we can refer to the last 15 years.
have to keep being interested in painting.
Are you interested in the experience itself?
No, I'm not interested in the experience itself. I understand it: once the
painting is finished I realise that it is a merchandise, when I'm painting it I
enjoy myself, once I finish painting it I enjoy myself because I have obtained,
enjoying myself, a merchandise. Do you understand? And that isn't so easy as
people may think. Do you understand?
I say, Do you understand?, and I repeat it to you four times I'm telling you
that what I've just said is very important. Because we are all creators, what
happens is that it is very difficult to create and that the thing you have
created can be sold, it isn't as easy as people think, because it isn't exactly
about quality, it has to do with a quality that is equivalent with the other
qualities, it has to be an equivalent quality, but besides there are an amount
of problems in the market, the market is controlled, there are many people
living from that control. Then, it is very difficult sometimes to penetrate that
layer of power.
like Cero Group and if I give it 40% it's because it's subsidising Cero Group
Editorial. Because Cero Group doesn't earn money with the Editorial, Cero Group
spends money in the Editorial, so I give money to Cero Group because subsidising
an editorial like Cero Group editorial, which published around four hundred
known poets and at least a hundred young poets in the last ten years, I think
that it is a good way of investing money.
Yes, On the 16th
we present two of your books: Letters
to my wife, and Monologue between the
cow and the moribund.
On Tuesday, April 16th. They are prose books.
They are narrative books, yes. I go on thinking on that question of prose, they
are poetic prose, they are like paintings, very difficult to define.
Why are you saying that?
Very difficult to define.
Ah! you realised how difficult it is to copy me.
Yes, that is going to be very difficult for the forgers of next century, well,
or from this century.
The same thing happens in poetry. Sometimes I think that my disciples don't
write as I do, not because of my quality as a teacher but because my poetry is
inimitable, because it's difficult to repeat even for me, for me that thing that
poetry does was also brutal.
What brutal thing does poetry do?
Well, you can only say that you don't like poetry if you don't listen to it,
that is to say, if you, when someone is reciting don't pay attention, which is
very easy for the human being. But if you listen to a poem, you won't be able to
stop listening to poetry. That's why when people make fun of me, I make fun of
people. People listen to the recitation of poetry and make fun of it because
they say "look at this one, the foolish things he writes". However, I
enjoy myself because I know that if someone happens to listen and say "I'm
going to listen to the foolish things that man says", that one is lost,
infected forever. From what? From that, because who, after knowing another
degree of humanity wouldn't like to be with that other degree of humanity? Only
someone who's stupid, only an imbecile, a semi-normal or a semi-healthy person,
wants to repeat that humanity.
Freud says that the individual never abandons any pleasure that he has already
The man is right. The only way of not accepting poetry is not listening to it,
well, there are people who fuck eight thousands times in their life without
being able to enjoy even one in case they might need it.
A reader asked me that if you could develop a little more the theme of the
previous number, where you said that you would close all the museums and would
establish a chain of whorehouses, because there are people who believed what you
They are right in believing it because if I take power I'll do that, do you know
why? Because, is it worth to have the Prado Museum, if only twenty five from the
eight million that live in Madrid are prepared to enter the Prado Museum? Is it
worth while? I say: let's install a whorehouse in the Prado Museum, let's make
money, let's collect the commission,
let's educate the Spanish people and when there are eight million people
in Madrid capable of being moved by the pictures in the Museum, we put the
pictures back in the Museum. Meanwhile it's stupid to maintain the Museum open
for fifteen persons with what it costs to maintain it open. That's why I like
Cero Group because when they realised what they were doing was well done, they
put it to the people's service.
don't like the answer I have given you. How would you like it? If you are one of
the fifteen people who goes to the Prado, how would you like it?
What do you think of the post-modern ideas that painting is no longer worth,
that now everything has to do with what is audio-visual. They've already said
that about the radio, that it was going to disappear with the coming of
television. Now they say the same about television.
Also, about theatre.
Of course, with the coming of cinema…
It is a mentality of unique loves.
There are many businesses, you don't understand the kind of businesses there
are. Yes, right now when everybody is interested in doing business with the
audio-visual, they teach people to paint, they spoil their business. It is as
with pornographic movies or to start doing the pornographic movie at home, with
people you know, with your wife. If people follow the psychoanalytical advice,
you don't have to deceive anybody with the person you have alongside. I don't
say that you have to invent the "pomona" (soft drink). The pornography
business is over, so for the pornography business to continue the important
sexuality in everyday life continues to be prohibited. If sexuality were allowed
and for example, what is done with drugs were allowed: "if you have such
drug, take it carefully, grind it this way, take it this way" paid by the
state, why don't they teach to fuck? Why don't they say: "if you slowly,
with a little bit of saliva, insert a little finger into her ass, you make her
relax and then I don't know what", the man, why does he need to see a
didn't like that answer either? Today you don't like anything of what I've said.
What did you have in mind? What did you want to talk about?
It seems that the people's ignorance is a good source of income.
The people's ignorance is a source of income for some swindlers, dishonest
businessmen, that take advantage of the people's ignorance. Besides, I consider
that it isn't the swindlers' fault, that people have to progress, people have to
realise where life is, where death is and that the state is responsible for the
do I say that my theories are good? Because I paint, people come to the workshop
and paint, nobody meddles in what you're doing till what you're doing is
finished. And if you are very young, you don't receive any critics on what
you're doing because, maybe what you're inventing is a new style and what I see
as an ugly thing might be the beginning of a new style… Of course, if time
goes by and you continue painting foolish things, you will be told: the new
style doesn't appear, why don't you paint as everybody does?
What versatility, a colour or a word, according to where you place it or
according to the side where you place them, is one thing or the other.
Very well, you're learning a lot of things, you benefit from these interviews.
In the end, I make these interviews to become cultured.
You chose the best way.
And by the way, I enjoy myself.
This isn't the interview for the Indio, is it?
I thought it could be, why not if you talk about poetry?
Yes, please, ask me a question about politics because if not our readers are
going to criticise us. What happened this week? What interested you this week in
the newspapers, Salamanca?
I was interested in the sort of distress Bush is immersed, because he has
already told Sharon twice to stop the attacks, to retreat from the occupied
territories and Sharon has said he will do it when he finishes his work.
And what did you think about it?
Well, first I was very amused at somebody saying no to the great Yankee.
Exactly, because he hasn't answered no, yet. There was a previous agreement that
he had to say to him to stop because he was negotiating the support of the Arab
countries, but that he was not going to stop. Why do I say this? Because when
the United States happens to think that you have to stop, it drops the atomic
bomb on you and it stops, if it isn't dropping the atomic bomb to Israel it is
because Sharon and Bush are in agreement. Like the good policeman or the bad
policeman, one slaps you in the face and the other offers you a cigarette, this
is the same.
It seemed to me totally surrealistic that somebody could say no to the United
Besides not only to the United States, but to the United States and to all the
international conglomeration of countries. You just ask me about the things I
don't want to get involved. Because I don't want to get involved where Polanco
got involved, in which the man, by telling the truth, got people to want to make
him the Spanish president. He already has his business, I don't know if he will
want. The same would happen to me, if I start talking, I start talking, I start
criticising, in the end, some crazy man, there is always a crazy man, is going
to say "this one is good for president", and I'm no longer in the age.
I'm in the age of running a clinic for elderly people, that yes, that I'd like.
Well, in a few years time Spain will become that. In 2040, it's going to be the
country with the oldest people in the world.
All right, I'm going to be 100 years old. Name me director of Spain when we are
an asylum for elderly people and I am 100 years old, it's all right.
Yes, all right.
Several news, you said that we were presenting a book. Did you say that we
charge admittance, so that people don't think that we are a sect?
Sundays at 6 p.m., yes we charge the admittance, but that is something else.
What other thing?
The presentation of your books is on Tuesday, April 16th, and
admittance is free.
the Sundays' recitals, "we buy" tickets, we charge the tickets, we buy
while of poetry.
politicians are like children now, they don't allow Piqué and Solana to see
Arafat, so they come back and Piqué says in the telly: "Well, we already
knew, don't think that they have caught us unaware, we already knew that they
were going to allow us to enter".
And you think it's a lie.
Of course it's a lie, they're all naive. Piqué thinks that with blows…
What Piqué can't believe and Solana couldn't believe is that the United States
were in agreement with Israel. That is what can't be believed.
Madrid has no problem? no problem does Madrid have? Everything goes well with
Madrid is a problem in itself, with this mayor we have, I mean that even the
county police is making strikes and fist fighting a few days ago with the
national police in a demonstration.
That's what I say in a poem, when war breaks out nobody knows where his beloved
lives and nobody knows where the traitor nests.
But that expression is very good, it was in today's newspaper.
The soldier killed by "friendly fire".
With such friends, who needs enemies? We are muddling ourselves up in politics,
let's change the subject.
beasts, screams of the lost time of love,
voluptuous passage, your blinded body.
untie my legs to still fly over your heart,
I'm very sorry to communicate to you, as my verses say: years have
And a 61 years old man cannot go around the Madrid's Gran Vía in
drawers without having any theory to fundament his walking. And I,
darling, I realise I have no theory which would allow me to walk
half-naked at 61. That is to say that I'm on the verge where it can be
comprehended and where it is considered more or less well, the fact of
having to change your lifestyle, radically.
A radical change in my personality. Something about money.
Something about sex. I'll learn to keep my job and my sex, I'll start by
drawing myself out of the offers windows, of the sales windows.
For a period of time, no more swarms of dreams and a little more of
swarms of businesses and work. Contracts, time, money, a full life, that
well led will suffice to accomplish some of our dreams.
says that she realises how I handle money.
I'm not going to handle so much money as you do, but close, I don't say
so much and apart it's not the only thing I want.
remains silent for a moment, she laughs.
Right now I was felling very funny, I don't know, it caused me fun. The
position caused me fun.
change old chains for new ones?
Let's continue the next time.
imagined that you were doing it with anyone, but enjoying I didn't get
jealous, it could be said that when I saw you in the arms of the other
two, I felt happy… After all, I told myself, those two women also desire
me and what is very clear, with all that's happening to me, is that I
desire them as a beast.
I wanted to be a woman, later to become a great woman and I have obtained
nothing, I go on being a frightened girl of the size of your genitals, I
will have to learn something from you.
feel a certain sadness for not enjoying of everything you offer me, but I
had days of full light, of that sun that lets you live so well. I had
those days in which only love went by.
danced, I danced as a woman madly in love with music.
body shook beaten by music. The other women didn't exist, his dick didn't
exist. Only my body existed moving slightly at the beat of the music. I
felt beautiful and attracted all the gazes over my body of
woman in love.
walks about like an expert dancer pretending he is interested in me and
very close to me he moves his body elegantly for the others, I throw
myself upon him, we stumbled a little and we fell one upon the other and
there I took advantage , while they helped us to stand up, to tell him:
love you, son-of-a-bitch, I love you.
- Get ready to live -the prophet said. And everybody ran away.
- Get ready to die -the murderer said. and the victims appeared
-Something coming out of the heart, poet, please, something from the
-Something coming out of the heart, poet, please, something from the
the poet cried, he cried and he wrote no more.
the poet cried, he cried and he wrote no more.
have to consider myself because of the treatment they are giving me (total
indifference) one of the most important poets of this century, and on the
other hand the most faithful lover that she has ever had.
unions subsequent to the kingdom of love, not only protect economic
interests (as she likes to pose it) but they impose a prevention of many
corporal illnesses and all madness.
absurd inter-weaving of characters makes any systematisation, impossible.
I have to stop being a suffered man who has lost everything in the past.
mirages flee away from me, frightened by this new reality that submits me:
joy, entertainment, pleasure, have me perfectly chained to live and no God
will come to tell me how my things should be.
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