Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Fighter

A real fighter must never look back. The road he sallies forth his pilgrimage, trudges pass all obstacles and comes striding into the battlefield where the fate of his game is decided- this road should, for the present, remains merely a faint lustre of a fading rainbow: diaphanous, forgettable within several blinks of eyes. The fighter is a loner and sole player of his own game.

The contortions on a fighter’s face give an impression of a child blowing up a balloon, but the fighter is more like the balloon than the child. His immortal strength is what the gods are most envious of. At any moment the fighter is expected to transform into a sacred figure; that the harder he fights the lighter he feels. Eventually everything is levitated.

However, when a fighter is defeated it is like a monolith that collapses. The spectators are at a loss of what to do but gape, until slants of scintillating gaze strikes the fighter like the bitterest mockeries. Thus the fighter is made to stand on his feet, or, in some critical situations, totter to his balance on the scorching ground, trembled by a succession of the audience’s beastly howls.

Those human figures by Francis Bacon are often blown up in violent disruptions and eruptions. When depicting a figure in accelerated movement the painter did not do so at the expense of its substantiality- what is presented on the canvas is still a concrete, fleshy being. Titled Portrait of George Dyer Riding a Bicycle (1966), Bacon appropriately made cycling a dizzying sport. Even the ground swirls as if in a circus arena. The painting reminds me of Degas’ Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando, but it isn’t too marvelous a spectacle as a sight of desolation: a quixotic cyclist circling in his immurement. An invisible, unknown somebody seems to be playing a very cruel trick.

An exciting tournament should be fizzed with sweats and vigour. George Bellows’ oil depictions of wrestling channel the masculine beauty inherent in the paintings and sculptures of the Old Masters. The colours fleet with movement. The tense muscles, the ruddiness of complexions and contortions of faces- the captured moment is in an apparent stalemate. A spectator with a cigar in mouth looks amusingly on; just the facial expression of any onlooker who gloats over the pain and toil of the sufferers.

Sportsmen can be performers whose only function is to entertain the impassive audience. The play they put upon is their ultimate guise, dissembling their weary souls of which spirits are destitute. Edgar Degas was obviously more interested in the backbreaking rehearsals of ballets than the performances. From those self-same ballet oils we gather how professional the ballerinas are as dancers and actors. Offstage is a world unimaginably grim: dancers stroking their sour backs and yawning uncontrollably. But even in their most torpid state the ballerinas still look effortlessly attractive. A man in suit gazes in entracement by aids of the intervening light coming from the foreground; the gaze suggests utter voyeurism.

Even after the fight the shadows of the fighters hover around the battleground. But the spectators take no notice of the lingering shadows as they file out, leaving an empty stadium swallow bitterly its echoing emptiness. The fighter with his body covered with wounds hobbles towards the battleground to face his Shadow, positively the most invincible opponent he’s ever met in his life. Without any soul witnessing the game the fighter fights on. And always will the fighter persists in fighting until the Shadow dissolves.

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