It’s tempting to think of the six-episode series, which will be released on Friday, as some sort of sequel to “Fishing With John,” Lurie’s favorite 1991 cult series that saw the artist and a famous friend of the week come out. in pursuit of some sort of hold or another in various remote places. “Painting” and “Peach” certainly share a DNA – given that each brief six-episode series is written entirely and directed by Lurie, it would be odd if that weren’t the case – but while “Peach” has the genre of gonzo energy you’d expect from a show in which Jim Jarmusch tries to tempt a shark with cheese and Tom Waits puts a fish in his pants, the surreality of “Painting” is much more meditative. (That said, “Fishing” is a fascinating companion to this series; it’s currently airing on The Criterion Channel and well worth your time.) Symptoms of advanced Lyme disease, Lurie says on camera, forced the artist to give up music and many other creative pursuits. Now living on an equally beautiful and isolated island, he turned to watercolor. In front of a canvas, he is contemplative and at ease, a stark contrast to his relationship to the camera, alternately and sometimes simultaneously playful, intimate and antagonistic. “Fishing” is a great adventure in style and form as well as in reality; “Painting” is a hand that passes directly through the solar plexus to press.
And tighten, it does. It’s a rare thing to come across a work of art that you can describe as both daffy and dismal at the same time, but “painting” is certainly such a creature. He might be more comfortable on the shelf next to something like Kirsten Johnson’s “Dick Johnson Is Dead” than his predecessor, but here we are. Rarer still is the TV show which is confrontational yet sweet as it pushes you towards something deeper, leaving the viewer to decide if the direction at close range to watch a beautiful sunset and then write a poem is a statement on how we see. the creation of art, a suggestion that we often miss such opportunities, or something else. Will Lurie’s head appear in the corner of the frame to quickly chat with the moon about the evil nature of loneliness – one of many jaw-dropping snaps provided by cinematographer / editor Erik Mockus – make you want to laugh or cry? Maybe both. Maybe neither. Maybe Tuesday it will make you angry, while Wednesday it will bring something like peace. For a show without much form, there isn’t a lost frame, and he never deigns to tell you what your reaction should be. You will get one, however. There is almost no doubt.
Forgive the staff intrusion, but it’s that kind of show, so here we are: Once, years ago, I was sitting on the floor of a huge black box theater, one of the many students there to learn from a legendary preview. theater company on duty. We were asked, one at a time, to stand up and have our classmates see the room differently using only our bodies. One by one, we distorted our silhouettes to echo the drape of a curtain, a diagonal beam of light, the immensity of a fire door. All interesting, all the same. (Write a poem about a sunset, they might have said.) Then my friend Ghafir got up and quietly but quickly left the room. The door closed and a few moments later another opened. He appeared on the second ringed level of space, and on quick but silent feet, walked to the opposite end of the vast space. There, in the middle of a wall, he stopped and suddenly pointed straight up. On the tip of his finger was a bright red push pin. I would never have seen it. None of us would. But it was there, and suddenly it was all we could see.