In the Park of the Golden Buddha

(from Joni Mitchell Paintings Interview of Joni Mitchell by Rene Engel © KCSN-FM December 21, 1999)

The thing that Gilles and I were talking about that interests me about looking at this. Because a painting should make you want to look at it again and again, and the thing that makes me look at it again and again is that you have two eyes but they don't belong to the same creature. One eye belongs to the deer; one eye belongs to the person, which is me in this case. You know, my eye is looking -- he's standing in the middle of the painting in the normal viewing position. My eye is looking past you on your left at something. The deer is looking

--looking at you

-- is looking towards me so something is happening behind you to your left. Both of the animals -- me animal and deer animal here

-- are calm, but there's a suspension of, you know, like an impending kind of feeling. He's going to take his cue from me and so instead of the movement taking place only on the flat surface of the painting, it seems to have a volume that sticks out that I don't recall seeing in another image, because the two eyes belong to two different creatures. I think that

--That's very interesting and I do as I look at it a little more my first reaction as well is somehow confirmed both by looking at it and by how you describe it and the deer in looking to you for a cue does seem to be a little behind you in my

-- in the way I sort of see the perspective. He's forward, I'm back, but, yeah, he's

-- he's forward and then

-- I have no depth perception. Well (laughs)? I'm one-eyed (laughs).

You're closer to me. Both the creatures are one-eyed. (laughs) You know, so any depth that you get in these is the way I see the world which is in terms of flat theatrical things set back anyway.

Does this come, by the way, from your imagination, or was this actually a chance encounter with a deer -- or not so chance?

This is in Japan an hour before I had to go on stage, and standing behind me are Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis' last girlfriend, who was a French girl, who is a philosophy teacher, and Wayne and a herd of little deer that bowed to you. We were so intrigued you'd walk up to deer and they'd bow to you and the people actually were the crowd that was lining up for our concert all along the edge of the lake and they were thick. I eliminated a lot of figures. So this was a composite of several different things and then there's a lot of the magic -- you throw away your source material at a certain point anyway. It's only used as a preliminary sketch and then you're going for a painting, you know, like otherwise, it's just an exercise. It's got to do something to compel you to look at it that a snapshot doesn't. You can get a certain amount from a snapshot, but a painting's got to be more than a snapshot, you know. But, for me, because it's personal it reminds me -- over across the lake is this enormous Golden Buddha, and they hadn't had a festival of music on these grounds -- this was a Buddhist garden for over a thousand years. At that time they invited their enemy, the Chinese, to perform at the foot of the Golden Buddha. This was an international show with Japanese artists, and British artists, Bob Dylan, and myself, and Wayne Shorter, and their "Miles Davis" and, you know, the far-out pink horn, electric-horn guy, that only knew one English word, the F-word (laughs), you know, so it's -- I did two paintings from this, one of Ana Shorter, who is really behind me with deer all around her all dressed in white. Ana was, unfortunately, lost in that airplane accident, so that's the last day that I spent with her and Ana's is quite a beautiful -- to me -- I have that one in my dining room so this is a documentary. It's another piece of memorabilia for me.

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