‘Life had once been defined by linears and absolutes, not anymore….’
Pretentious bullshit or not, all those early reviews of Frankie’s work screamed the same message: here was a man who didn’t just live his art, he was his art. Disappointingly for the weekend feature editors, Frankie Bosanko wasn’t your standard fucked up malcontent born into a troubled childhood: his mother hadn’t been a sexually abused, teenage crack addict – Frankie started out as a plain ordinary kid, in a plain ordinary life. Perhaps that was the reason things eventually went the way they did.
The fire at the mill cost the Bosanko family nearly everything. His dad hit the unemployment line, and then the bottle, as his son headed for three years in juvenile correction. Nobody could understand why he’d done it, he never did explain that night to anyone. It was while in ‘juvey’ that it began – just scribbles, but within those seemingly random, abstract shapes and lines something sparked. The golden flames which ripped through the burning mill inspired his first major work. Some said he was glorifying crime, nobody died in his fire, but none the less plenty thought it was in bad taste.
‘It’s art, it’s real, it’s my life,’ is all Frankie would say.
At twenty Frankie moved to the city and rented a tiny bedsit on the east side. He unashamedly played on his maverick genius, ex-con persona and quickly became the must have, risqué invite for the trendiest parties on the scene. The story of the night he and the wife of a well heeled client fucked like randy college grads on pristine white sheets while being showered in paint still does the rounds. That particular client was ecstatic, he watched and then paid $200,000 for the results – those sheets are now worth ten times that, as are most Bosanko originals. It was good money for Frankie and he never denied he enjoyed it, the life, the women, even the infamy – especially the infamy.
Through all the good times Frankie had remained phobic about the prospect of becoming predictable, even worse becoming irrelevant. His public appearances were by now fleeting, rare and often a disaster. Each time the worry lines on his sallow face grooved just a bit deeper, the impish smile slightly more strained, his once shoulder length jet black hair, racing backwards in a losing battle to a rampaging white army. Some said he was ill, others that he was dying. He then disappeared for nearly a year, prompting many in the community to proclaim his demise.
Then suddenly he was back. Understated fliers invited those interested in his work to attend the Yarndale Gallery on the corner of 23rd St – it was packed as people watchers, social climbers, journalists and just the plain curious milled throughout the vast open plan studio. Frankie looked worse than ever, yet under the pasty skin and dark shadowed eyes there remained a spark. He was up to something, they all knew it.
‘Well, I’d just like to thank everybody for coming,’ he began.
The crowd cheered and applauded.
‘…it’s been a while. I expect most of you had forgotten about me.’
‘No, never!’ they replied as one.
At the back of the dimly lit gallery, Frankie stood motionless in front of a empty, white textured canvas. A younger Frankie had been famed for his live performances and outlandish installations, and so the room was soon at fever pitch as the crowd waited on their forgotten hero to amaze once more. A second, closer canvas was squeakily wheeled into place as the frail figure of Frankie disappeared again from public view. The room then went pitch dark – laughter and giggles morphed into screams. Before pupils could react to the gloom there came a bang – not a loud explosion, more of a contained squelch followed by the unsettling sound of liquid meeting solid.
As light slowly re-illuminated the room, the two canvases were now arranged side by side. A cordon of pleated, red felt rope provided a barrier as burley, shiny headed security guards stood primed to prevent any potential breaches. From the rope a cardboard sign hung loosely on white parcel string – it stated boldly:
‘Do not touch!‘
Both canvases were sprayed in lurid reds, blacks and browns. In amongst the dribbles and blotches, lumps of matter shuddered, as if alive. Around the foot of the pictures pools of what looked like blood had begun to congeal.
Most of Frankie Bosanko was nowhere to be seen.
These words form my entry into the speakeasy writing challenge. I hope you like them!