Stairways

The stern consideration of line, symmetry and dimension allow the draughtsman to dissolve. His early works are haunted by distance and yearning: castles in the sky. But he sharpens himself with the calculation of paradox. ‘Can something so mechanistic be art?’ he gloats.

The architecture firm that sponsored his exhibition had no such question. Creation is design, is purpose, is profit.

The draughtsman considers pieces of glass. He lays and places them in particular constellations. The world is a chaos of shapes. He needs to align them.

His father was made of angles too: credit and debit, profit and loss. Hale and ancient in blue and gold, the merchant clutched a tulip in his hand and a pipe between his lips.

‘God, my boy,’ he says, ‘makes his presence known through the elegance of transactions. He is the equal sign – the balancer of ledgers – and all things shall be accounted for, all shall converge.’

‘Papa,’ says the draughtsman, sketching the merchant’s body back to together, ‘I can’t grasp the roundness of things. Depth is just a trick. You are breaking into polygons, scars in linographs.’

‘Depth his a commodity,’ he smiles. ‘I am 92 years old – four twenty threes, two forty-sixes, eighty and twelve, three fours and four tens. Pray well, but the creator who made us damned and saved when he cut our tessellations into air.’

The merchant left then, by the stairs, and his son followed but could not tell if they were going up or down.

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