I. The Act See: Paolo Icasas’ The Jealous Mistress
II. The Rationale If there were a prevalent behavior on how Paolo Icasas approaches his works, it would be his choice to see art in its simplest form: beauty – which then takes on multiple incarnations – beauty as comfort, as unrest, beauty as joy, as melancholy, beauty as strength, as powerlessness, beauty as a salve, as an ache – beauty as privilege and limitation of humanity in equilibrium. Icasas often puts himself in the point of view of the observer as he speaks of such, relating his own sentiments to the real experiences of others, and suppositions of situations as metaphor. In The Jealous Mistress’ narrative, however, Icasas plays the role of himself actively performing a soliloquy of love.
In this act he lovingly submits himself to a force that has influenced his life, a force that he has come to be dependent of more than he thought he would allow. It has been speaking for him when he is unable to, feeling for him when he is unable to, persisting for him when he seems incapable of doing so. He personified it as a friend when he was a young boy, and now, as a man, it has willfully taken the role of a lover.
In this act he is the troubadour professing his love, prostrating his subatomic self to his cosmic object of reverence. Surrendering to a sublime force is an ever present gesture in Icasas’ works. Notable are his past paintings of storms in which he deems his being negligible in the face of such spectacle, and his landscapes in which he speaks of quiet beauty capable of swallowing his existence into nothing. In his works for The Jealous Mistress, this force is Art as the unattainable lady, the hot and cold muse, the demanding beloved, the possessive paramour, and he as the lonesome man who would give everything for a morsel of her love, in a slanted love affair where he has her except for her heart, but she will always have his.
In this act, he declares his undying love for his vague ethereal lover as he solidifies her in portrayals of a temporal body, and clothes her in beauty by unclothing her in a series of Venus Nudes.
III. The Witness Account Imagine the man you love looking through your nakedness while reveling in his adoration for a beauty that isn’t you, a beauty that is beyond you. He says you’re the best conduit for this act of love that is not in any way dedicated to you. He says the comfort, familiarity, and dependence you share with him is the closest he can think of to what he and she have; that she’s the greatest, but you may do.
You submit yourself to the conduit role as he submits himself to this force, you call it; a woman, he calls her. You see yourself in his sketches, and you thought that he has seen you somehow, but not in his paintings – his paintings are all her. There is no you in there. For in his process, your body becomes not yours, and that body becomes not a body – anymore. It becomes a woman until the woman isn’t – she becomes something exceeding, almost divine, but not of the gods. It is easier to compete with a person than with an untouchable entity that has occupied so much of the life of the man you love.
He loved her before he loved you, and you are completely aware of this. He loved her before he even knew of love and its complexities, so you remain by his side as someone who supports – a willing victim of whatever this is, an accomplice to your own demise, if that’s how you’d want to view it.
He had told you there are things that need to be said, and love that needs to be expressed, and you have given him the go ahead, which you knew he didn’t really need from you. You would like to think that he had asked you out of respect, and that that respect tells you that he loves you just as well. But you begin to question this once their trysts start to become more frequent. She keeps him in the mornings, in the afternoons even. Sometimes in the evenings too, except when it’s time for supper.
She is greedy. She occupies your after midnight talks, your post coital conversations. She takes so much of the time that was supposed to be for you; she takes the time meant for the children even. But she makes a better man out of him, you say, for she is his beginning of all beginnings, his end of all ends.
Now imagine you are me in this marriage that is of three. If we were to define the wife as the one more loved, more adored, the one he can never leave, then we may come to agree that the other woman is me.