Looking Inward With Absolute: Rest
by Daric Gill
It is good to look inward with an absolute silence, to find solace during those cacophonous times. For Absolute: Rest, I took a major departure from my normal idea gathering process and instead developed the painting along side a short story I wrote.
Absolute: Rest is an oil painting on reclaimed Honduran Mahogany. A black handmade envelope is painted above a translucent geometric ‘X’. On top of the envelope is a leaf from the ZZ plant. Its green flesh is held down by a smooth stone. Each of these elements are symbols taken from the short story, Bricks to Stones.
“So afraid of a falling shelter, Man spent all his energy grinding bricks into stones and bones to dirt. These are materials more suited for a garden than a shelter.”
[Process Video, Short Story, & Full Image Gallery Below]
Bricks To Stones
Short story by Daric Gill
Man sits on a hill overlooking the world. He is young, closer to a child than an adult. Eager to plan his future, he sets out to build a solid shelter. Man plans to travel across the earth, finding sturdy rocks along the way that could easily stack well as bricks. They would need to be square and true.
Every morning he strapped on a rucksack of his perfect bricks, eagerly pursuing just the right spot to build his shelter. He walked with a pack on his back for many miles and for many years. As he traveled, Man watched the ground intently for new possibilities along the way. He stooped down to inspect new bricks. Man painstakingly considered all the best possible ways to use that unique block.
There were great expanses of time where he’d find new bricks and conclude they were not special, sturdy, or true enough. After all, to build something big, something grand, he would only collect the sturdiest bricks and look for only the most solid foundation. In those chasms of time he found immense pleasure in the rustling of the leaves and the warmth of the sun.
Decade after decade he carved through the earth with the multiplying weight bouncing on his back. As each day folded into an end, he would plunge his hands deeply into the pack. Man’s fingers ran in and out of every void on the brick’s porous surface. He excitedly learned those new spaces, excavating them intently like one would pluck with their tongue at a morsel stuck in their teeth. His probing tips proudly mapped out each nuance and included this new information into his careful planning.
The growing heft and Man’s downward gaze eventually recorded their weight in the arch of his back. His mind grew weary of the complicated formulas. He had fallen in love with those infinitesimal investigations and they had left their imprint.
One crisp morning, while sitting next to a stream in the woods, Man came across two old friends, Age and Reflection. The hours slipped away as they laughed and told stories. As the sun made its way to the horizon, Age and Reflection decided to find their way back to their own handmade shelters. Man stretched out his arms to embrace Age and Reflection. They both smiled and returned the favor.
That night, Man again reached deep into his pack and pulled out the bricks. One at a time they piled onto the ground. Something was different. Those porous bricks, square and true, had turned into edgeless smooth stones that glistened against the moonlight. Man reached out towards the beautiful roundness and he was startled to see his hands had turned into his father’s. The hands were special hands; sturdy hands, true and strong.
He cupped up the stones with both his well-used hands like he was drinking water from a fountain. The hard edges of each brick were softened by friction, worn down by endless handling, and polished by love. A few velvet stones slipped through his weathered fingers. They were not bad bricks or faulty bricks as they were no longer bricks at all. They were now stones. Good, smooth, velvety soft stones.
Stones build differently than bricks. He spent his whole life searching for bricks and he now had stones. Man remembers the original goal and wonders if a shelter was ever in his future. He wonders if his obsession was not as a builder, but as the building.
Man was confused. He needed time to think. To react.; Or to be reacted upon; Or to rest; Or to reset; Or to simply not carry stones for a moment. He needed to feel the soil, appreciate the sun, and consider what comes next. Man needed to be free from the burden of how it may all fit together in the end.
Man breathes out.
His mind flickers. Hunger tugs at his insides. Man returns his gaze to an opened clearing. So concerned with a solid foundation that he never planted seeds for nutrients. For a proper garden he needed to enlist Time, Strength, and Work.
Tired from carrying the worry, the weight, and perplexed by the longevity of a task that sits before him, he decides to lay down. Man, now old, flattens out against the earth and quietly whispers to himself, “Rest, my friend”.
Slowly his eyes fill with sand and they close. As Man’s mind slips into the grey middle, he asks internally if he is the gardener or the garden.
A sliver of the moon expands into a full globe and back again. The last minute of the last ray of moonlight inches across the blackened space and lands on a single drip of ground dew. The world reflects in the dew for a moment before it twists its way down a blade of grass. It lands on a fresh green bud only inches away from Man’s right palm. A slight crumble of dirt falls away from the budding plant shoot and a tiny green sprig leaf awakens.
The last ray of the last moonlight whispers back, “My friend, rest.” and then the sliver slips into the deepness.
A side note: This piece of wood originally belonged to a 1927 Honduran mahogany from a baby grand piano. You can read how I made the painting on the baby grand piano top here.