I had to kill you – “The C#*!D Word”

A story about regrets, recovery and rebirth. Renowned LA based artist and long-time Vamp Magazine contributor reflects on his post pandemic transition from darkness to light.

It changed everything. I hate to even use the word. I call it ‘The C word’! Apart from all the lives that were lost, so many people started falling inexplicably ill, romances and marriages broke down, small businesses fell apart, dreams were shattered, homes were broken, lives were ruined. I only have one regret in life, taking the shot. My immunity was not the same after taking it.

Backtrack to 2019. After creating art works over a seven year period in the United States between 2013 and 2019, and working solidly for six months in London on my multimedia art show ‘Insanity Fair’ which was to showcase these works created in America, we finally opened the show in London in late March at Elephant West Gallery, White City. The show was curated by Jenny Christensson and extensively covered by brilliant and legendary art historians Jean Wainwright and Edward Lucie-Smith, but at the same time, news started being reported that the ‘C Word’ had become a pandemic, and that it was going global. Three days later, London and the entire world went into lockdown, another word I despise, I call it the ‘L word’. Welcome to Dystopia.

I moved into an apartment in Notting Hill where I stayed for fourteen months. The brilliant white, heavenly basement dwelling seemed perfect, but was unbeknownst to me, mould~infested. I was living in rotting hell, without even knowing it. In ‘Hell’, I would often fall ill, and reminisce about golden days in California, but the reality was that I had taken the vaccine three times, and was breathing mould for over a year in grey dystopian London, where the sun would set at early as 3.30pm during winter. By the end of 2021, I was out of ‘Notting Hell’, and had moved to a safer haven where I was bed ridden for 4 months.

These four months were profound. I had succumbed to weakness, I knew the road to recovery could be long, since taking the dreaded vaccine, I knew my body was not fixing itself how it used to. The workaholic within me fought with the wiser self, and after weeks of battle, my former self was defeated and removed from the field, and I, the new ‘I’, dedicated time on healing through nutrition, rest, and painting. Painting is patience, and patience is absolutely necessary for survival.

Painting changed everything. It got me out of bed. It took me back to the nineties, a time I still cherish, a time before the internet, when people took there time to live their lives. A time before Dystopia, the current status quo. Painting took me back to Utopia. 1992.

It allowed me to slow down, regroup and readdress life. It took me back to The Slade School of Art, drawing, painting, simpler forms of artistic expression. More primitive with no need for technology. I could be liquid, expressive with hardly any pre planning, I could be free, I was free. In hindsight, it was my subconscious which made me paint.

I started with one, and then another, and another. I found that the process of painting somehow allowed my mind to work things out on a subconscious level, and that every time I stopped painting, this subconscious processing would stop. So every time I finished a painting, I started another one.

[…”My personal painter’s paradise has served as my mental and physical health retreat, as well as a spring- board for reaching other undiscovered artistic goals”…]

I also started drawing. This whole process became like a workshop which, over a period of a year, healed me, and helped me free myself of my own inhibitions, doubts and fears, and limitations in life, despite the innate knowledge that our time in this physical world is limited. Cliches like ‘Live each day like it’s your last’ suddenly seemed so poignant.

My personal painter’s paradise has served as my mental and physical health retreat, as well as a springboard for reaching other undiscovered artistic goals. To stop learning is to stop living. ‘The C Word’ may have destroyed so much, but it shook me up, and made me fully realize the fragility of life, the importance of embracing vulnerability, the preciousness of time, and the absolute necessity of the broadening of one’s horizons, and facing challenges fear- lessly, to arrive at destinations that were previously unimagined, but play a pivotal role in order to complete one’s own life story in the best possible capacity, and to leave a legacy, which might have been out of sight and mind when life began.