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This report is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

Synchronicity and Tobacco Smoke Marius Kociejowski

Yesterday on the tube I smelled tobacco smoke. Actually, it was pipe tobacco as opposed to cigarette, a distinction every bit as fine, say, as that between port and wine. I asked my wife if she could smell it and no, she couldn't - it had to be in my imagination. She says sometimes I make real what I imagine. We were on the District Line returning from the Lucien Freud exhibition at the Tate, which establishes once and for all what a great painter he is, not always, but he has been most pointedly so during this past decade. Admittedly I do not much care for the lineage. I have no truck with the grandfather's voodoo, whereas the grandson seems to have found a more profound psychological truth in surfaces. Although I have never met any of them I knew all the people in his portraits and the one of a young woman with bare shoulders, which made me feel her nakedness beyond the frame, haunted me throughout most of a sleepless night. Art criticism does not really fall within the reach of my intelligence, I know what I like, but what struck me is that the greatest portrait he never painted was of the poet W.S. Graham although, arguably, Graham got there first - there could be no further transmogrification of his features. I'm sure Freud could do Harold Pinter too, with occasional brushstrokes of blue. Anyway, I smelled smoke. This happened to me once before, when ...


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