Mati Klarwein (1932-2002) - extracts from the book Collected Works 1955-1975
«For my temple of the ‘undefined religion of everything’ I needed an altar piece so that folks won’t feel disoriented, a kind of central focus that centers you if nothing else did before. In Trinidad I saw the widest tree.
There was a rather Jovial Bordello adjacent to that tree, full of sailors and pregnant young prostitutes where I went for my after-dinners drinks and chats. None of the girls knew who of the fathers of their babies were. We came to the conclusion that it must have been the pollen of that tree that fertilized them. This painting took me two years to finish and caused me more trouble than all the marriages in the world possibly could.»
«... My initial intention was to cover the branches with humanity going through all its various daily activities which would have looked like an illustrated school almanac titled ‘The Activities of the Human Race’ — I passed on that one and after some deliberations and hesitations, mostly in apprehension of the battles that I would have to fight with the familiar forces of puritanism all around us, beginning with my mother who by now was blind enough not to be able to distinguish what all those little figures on the branches were doing (»Are they dancing?» she asked).
This I realized much later: I unconsciously painted the fucking tree at the very period when my ever critical and censoring mother was too blind to read its imagery...
...Taking the step of no return and tearing through the last hundred curtains of my sexual liberation I started to paint — instead of general human activities — our main and favorite preoccupation: Love, Sex and Ecstasy; those famous crossroads where the pure life energies meet and greet, Christ was nailed to such a crossroad because he was the first whitey to cast his philosopher’s stone into it.
Two thousand winters later I plunged my hand into these primordial currents and came up with Miss Siti Hossein, a Malayan earth mother, who was presented to me on a silver platter by the Master of Ceremonies himself — ‘Le divin’ Dali.»
«Annunciation is the first painting I painted after my initial New York awakening. I was 28 years old and at the peak of my molecular bio-energy. You can feel the sudden burst of the Big Apple’s electric zap in the composition after all the early years of adolescent brooding over potatoes and eggs and the romantic nostalgia of the preceding Flight to Egypt. Years later Carlos Santana saw a reproduction of the Annunciation in a magazine and wanted it for the cover of his all-time best selling Abraxas album. It did me a world of good. I saw the album jacket pinned on the wall of a shaman’s mud hut in Niger and inside a Rastafarian’s ganja hauling truck in Jamaica. I was in good global company, muchísimas gracias Carlitos!»