Manet like most underrated geniuses — think Van Gogh — was well known, loved, and championed by other people, who are now famous:
-Monet (yeah, that one)
He knew all of them.
“The future is his,” Zola wrote after seeing The Luncheon on the Grass. In 1866, he wrote a flattering review of Manet.
In thanks, Manet offered to paint Zola.
“Did you know we’d still know each other,” Fury asked Niels. “after all these years?”
Niels instantly shook his head, briskly. He said, “I just wanted a guy to sit for me. So I can paint him. Guess, that’s what I got.”
“I just wanted to be painted. Guess we both have that going for us.”
We laughed it off, as we paced back to the station to get home after a painting session for the third Fury painting.
In his studio Fury was sitting, this time (painting II he was standing), across from Niels, who was to his right side, diagonally, behind the easel. Niels squinted his eyes, Fury sat still as a stone.
Fury said, “Guess this is the trilogy.”
Niels said, “Huh?” Occupied with squinting, the brush in his left hand and then looking at the canvas, then back again at Fury.
“It’s all over pop culture, like in cinema, The Dark Knight Trilogy, or boxing, the other day you had GGG v Canelo III, that’s a trilogy. This is the third one you’re painting of me.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.” He nodded, with a bright smile.
“Still reminds me of Zola and Manet.”
“Remind me again what it was about them?”
“Manet, the artist, simping on his brother’s wife btw, but he had a strong bond with prominent French writer Zola.”
“Haha, you calling me a simp.”
“Haha, no it’s just about how – maybe it was more common then tbh – two artists try to make their way, with their craft. And not a lot of people are doing that. And they’re grinding it out. Honing their craft, their voice. Staying true to their voice. And then they meet. And they find something in one another, and somehow, this bond, it strengthens the both of them, and their individual craft. The painter, and the writer.”
Fury was back in town and was catching up with his friend Niels at a café. Over some coffee. They just talked the usual, this and that, super open, no holds barred, and with honesty, without crossing the harsh, intimate barriers they’ve known to exist within and between one another. The moment and the conversation spoke for itself how fluid it was once more, and maybe always had been, and that even though, on a Newtonian linear time scale time had passed, it felt like none had passed at all. The artistic flow state of being.
Niels suddenly interjected with, “Wanna sit for me again, next Monday?”
Fury couldn’t refuse him, instantly answered, “Yeah, sure.”
It wasn’t that Fury’s schedule wasn’t so packed, with smokes and or writing and or reading and or boozing and or catching up on his prodigal return to the city, but it was more so that he had a deep liking to be painted. Niels hit it right on the head one time with: “Damn, it’s nice to be painted. I’d love to be painted. Wish I knew more painter friends. You just sit down. Do nothing. But you’re doing something. You’re being painted. It’s quite relaxing.”
Fury had laughed, and agreed ever so much.
And there was the flow state. There’s much written about it, by neuroscientists, and much to talk about, because it always carry with it an artistic notion. A certain ineffable hue; which makes it elusive yet fun to talk about, mysterious enough to try and try to unravel, poke at it, trying to let the flow bubble spring upon, so that we may siphon some divine insights from it…
..this is what Fury liked all the more. Much more than just being painted. He had a deep passion for it. He, himself, loved flowstate, from the creator point of view, as a writer. That was like snapping his fingers for him. He even had gone so far as to time it. “Ten to fifteen minutes, or if you’re really struggling hard, tops thirty minutes, then you’re in flow state, doesn’t really matter what you’re doing tbh.”
Fury saw and felt flow in all things. “See the way in one thing, see it in all.” Happened when Fury was reading a book for hours. Or having sex. Found only if the girl is really in love, and Fury, too, and or only, if she’s technically skilled enough, Fury always was. Or when he was playing guitar, or on the other end of it, listening to music. But there was a specific style of flow that one goes into when being painted. Fury, being painted by Niels two times already, still couldn’t place his finger on it completely.
Closest thing he could equate it with is being put under a hypnotic trance. He had to make that analogy, because Niels was a cert hypnotist, who had shown Fury the ropes. Or other than that, it was like one of those hour long sessions of meditation Fury used to put himself under when he was young and had copious, naive amounts of time to squander.
Why it resembled being put under so much, is that during induction, etc, all the phases, the client is completely conscious, awake. So the ques are kept being given by the hypnotist, and the client registers this. Liken this to the painting scenario:
Fury sits. After Niels told him to. First command. (Some sessions Fury was known to sit down by his own volition, too). Niels has a deep, reverberating voice, that as he talks, as the conversation draws further, and deeper, and deeper, and the brush strokes make ASMR like soothing sounds on the canvas, and the light quite diffuse not harsh, the natural outside light spills in and it massages the orbicularis oculi of Fury, his eyes gets tired, he’s fighting against fatigue and sleep and symptoms of that which shall not be named, he didn’t tell Niels he was up late last night drinking and smoking, he was a bit late and Niels must’ve surmised, Niels always knows.
The first session was always getting into things, the groove of it, and was a sketching session. Pencil. Fury was accustomed to this, and knew it was coming and it was over quick. The second session is when it really got down and dirty, real paint, on the canvas. Niels, like the Classical Masters, works in layers, layer one, wet paint, let it dry couple days, if not a full week, then back on monday again, paint dry, and we go at it again, layer two, so on, and so forth.
By the third session, after a long sitting and getting up and looking at Niels for the approving nod, Fury looked at the canvas of Fury III, the Trilogy! and he saw his eyes in paint on the canvas once more and he didn’t smile visibly, but on the inside and he said: “I like the eyes. I always like it when an artist can capture the eyes of another human being. The essence is there, the soul.”
Niels agreed and nodded, but before it was spoken out Fury knew he was gonna say it, but that’s what friends do, you listen to golden oldies and just let them and it slaps anyways and it’s his, and he said: “Actually. The nose is the hardest part. Most people don’t know that. Imagine looking at the nose from this side, or that side, and then the light hits like this, or that, can be quite tricky.”
Fury had heard it, at least two times, the times he was painted by Niels, but found the fact fun nonetheless and just nodded.
Niels added, “This one’s a serious one alright.”
The eyes of Fury.
Fury said, “Haha, yeah pardon me. You said to me, sit still and look in that direction. So I went into a self induced meditative trance, I tend to do that when sitting still for a long spell. Then I was just thinking of some stuff. Guess that got captured in the eyes of the portrait.”
“Yeah, paintings are funny like that. They can capture where a person’s at in his life at the moment. They really can. The more you think about it.”
“Oh yeah, that’s true. Painting one, 2019, you in [redacted], I was still working at the office (link). Painting two, last year, I believe, 2021, oh yeah that girl haha, I was always going to hear after the session. I think you’re onto something. Guess we could call this one Late Niels’ work.”
Niels shook his head, firmly, said, “I’ve only been painting for less than [redacted] years. Haha, it’s not even possible to have an early, much less later period of my life.”
Fury looked at Niels stern. “You’re right.”
It was the third, or fourth session that was off to a rough start, the first part of the flow cycle, struggle. Niels and Fury stayed in it longtime, before he came to the eureka-esque epiphany to put on Wagner.
Fury had kept quiet about the flow of conversation — from topic to topic to topic, node to node to node, tak-tak-tak, like a monkey darting in the trees from branch, to branch, or a spider gliding along its web, but stopping at the points where the web branches off — but mentally kept track of it. It went a bit along the lines of: Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Rings of Power, Die Ring des Nibelungen, Wagner.
Niels said, “We should put on some Wagner!”
Fury said, “Didn’t know you were into that.”
“You don’t mind do you?”
“No, I listen to it, too.”
Niels put his brushes on the table, his palette down, and got up and picked up his white phone on the table and went to his music, he put on some Wagner. As he put on his favorite pieces he explained which he loved more of the Nibelungen. And he added there’s a massive fifteen hour opera festival in the birthplace of Wagner. Fury had checked it out after the session, he was late for it this year, next year he had thought.
“This one mimics the Rhine, and I just love it to be played frivolously, erratic, forceful, brash, uncontrolled, like a crashing river, you know.”
Fury could see the passion as Niels kept painting. It was actually after this piece, or at the Siegfried piece Fury started to realize it was all coalescing together: Fury, Niels, the painting, Wagner, the Hero’s journey, all of it. Fury kept his mouth shut. And rode the painting flow. It was after all that which he coveted at the very start when he said yes. In a flash of synesthesia – crossing of the senses; one sees music; hears colors; tastes words – Fury saw phantasmical specters created within the shadows the light was casting, and all this with the cadence of Wagner in the backdrop. He let his eyesight go unfocused as to diffuse the colors of reality more and more, it was something he used to toy with, ever since he was little, but more serious when dabbling with altered states of trance and the like. And Niels was in his world, and Fury’s, or theirs, and Wagner jumbled somewhere there along, and the Hero Siegfried too, and Niels kept painting and painting and painting, he was quiet, but his brush was loud, stroke after stroke after stroke, almost like a manic fit, but controlled and fierce and real yet lethal oh so lethal and precise and calibrated and Fury just sat and was and merged with the colors of the brush and the canvas and the ideas he was toying with that he was “seeing”, then no longer “seeing”, then it was red, or white, or green, and then he heard this, and thought this and that.
The phone must’ve gone off, or the mental alarm in Niels’ head as he got up and checked his phone. He said, “Gotta check. Have to be there on time.”
The bubble of flow, where the untimely existed, literally no time, had burst. Which was ok, Fury had gotten his fix, and he felt inspired in the moment and like a stenographer, he sometimes wished he could write along as it happened, always that he had to remember the events and experiences, always dreading to forget things, always shrugging it off, because he knew he would manage.
Niels said, “That’s the thing with flow, you forget all sense of time.”
“That’s how you knew it was real,” Fury said. But at the same time had a dark thought, or rather creatively divine, rather crazy. What if Niels had no life and all the time in the world to paint from the second he wakes up, till the second he needs to go to sleep, because of exhaustion, and then for the rest of his life, what epics could he create?
Then Fury applied that to his life, his craft, his writing. He let it go as fast as he had conjured it up. Something so powerful and insane and weighty is not just something one toys with. Because once you open the lid it’s allconsuming, enrapturing, swallows you whole and it’s goodbye.
Fury met up with Niels and a friend of his, let’s call him C. C was, is inquisitive but very creative, at one point they were chatting over coffee and he asked Fury, How does it feel like to be painted?
Fury looked at Niels, and he said, “To paraphrase the Master. It’s easy. You just sit down. Do nothing. But you get painted. It’s very relaxing.”
C said something along the lines, Oh my goodness, look at you two guys, painting and writing books (Editor’s note: Fury was writing his ninth, sixth if you discount all the twitter books, date then was 13/10/22).
Again Fury looked at Niels, almost with a half-asymmetrical shrug, and Niels nodded back at him.
“But it’s the trilogy!” Fury added, “so it’s gonna be great.”
“What’s the trilogy?” C asked.
Fury had asked Niels permission the painting session before they met C if he could write a piece about Fury III, and the process, and the trilogy, and Niels had said, Sure, as he nodded along instantly. But Fury hadn’t thought there would be an intermezzo; usually they had a fixed schedule, every monday, but this came in between; but as Fury was drinking coffee and chatting, he came to the stark realization that this was actually great for the creative process. Not per se for the production of the pieces itself. Fury III, by Master Niels, and the piece about the piece, by Fury. But about the life, and times, and chats, and thoughts of the people behind the art. How they go about their life, how they embody their art as they pound pavement. That they’re not just their brush, or their pen. Not just their paint, or their ink. That they themselves are people of substance who imbue such vitality which can transgress their medium, art, and idea behind it. At least this is what Fury always kept secretively close to his heart, the larger-than-life aspirations, but he could tell, Niels with his stubborn (only actually can be characterized specifically on point with a very Dutch word which has no translation) outlook on life, his perseverance, his tenacity and every time he spoke with passion about his art, yeah Niels had a certain chutzpah, this vigor that would not only drive others – Fury had long inspiring walks with Niels when he was back, and in nature, talking about him procrastinating on his latest book whilst proclaiming his whole life that it’s not something he does – but more so himself, to always set himself straight, if he got led astray.
Fury didn’t know if he realized that over the coffee they had first, or over the beers they had after. They actually needed a third guy, a different form of third man effect (a thing in psychology where you conjure up an extra person, but it’s a hallucination and you’re just there on your own, look it up, quite interesting), where he acted as some kind of mirror for the both of them. Since Niels and Fury were acting as mirrors to one another; the painter, the writer. And now with this extra mirror, this extra angle, from which new light could be shone, this dynamic duo got fleshed out more and more, in real time, and Fury wished he was taking physical notes but he had enjoyed his smokes more and the drink now. Niels was probably doing his thing, perceptive guy, he was probably sniping left and right, understanding himself, C, Fury, all of them, and the duos within the trio, or he was just finally chilling and taking his day off.
“Yo let me record us next time when we have a talk,” Fury said.
Niels said, “Why not the last time we paint. It’d be great, minus all the transcribing work then. You ever did that, can be quite time consuming.”
“Yeah used to do it a lot, as a kid, how I got great at dialogue. Used to dissect hours and hours of my favorite shows.”
“Haha, great then, bring the recorder next time, should be good.”
If you want to check out Niels his work, his writings is to be found at this twitter handle: at Nielsknk. Support him from there.
If you want to give some love to the instagram post made with his portrait of The Fury, check this out.