September 17, 2005: Snow Days are stored in this square until further notice
Freedom of thought
Oil painting by Paul Jaisini, New York, 1999.
The color of this painting is an agent of transformation that makes the prison world illusive.

In the painting "Freedom of thought" Jaisini has built a form of time and space that transforms the world of prison into a dream or a thought of a philisopher, the artist himself, laying on a plank bed of the illusory prison cell.

"Freedom of thought" is populated with images of wicked criminals and guards. However, the convicts do not carry ugly or realistic character references but are portrayed with humor and irony. Two crooks are playing cards. One has an Arabic-looking face with a purple nose. His partner's face, in some parts, is a brick packing and his eye is shielded with bars. A brick background is also found at the middle part of the painting that supports the miniature brick structure of the con's face. A rat and an angry dog fight for a rotten fish. At the upper right corner the weightless hazy scene of rape blends with a flow of the composition where all personages conjoin in the obscure carnival of confinement. Jaisini portrays himself as a participant. His position is, nevertheless, the most calm. He is in a condition of concentrated thinking or in a deep sleep. The jail, as a dream or a thought, becomes unreal and does not exist. The question arises of what reality that is in the artist's thought or dream, or the surrounding whirlpool world of the prison. Is this a work of art, according to Scheider, considered as a kind of "dream turned inside out"? The painting seems to be illusory owing to its amazing color and its references to the old-fashioned lockup system. The state of the artist's dream or thinking could be unreal as well. Then what is the reality in "Freedom of thought"? Maybe it is the "I", the creative self, which is pure consciousness, the witness of these three states, the motive power to survive, to create, to think. Jaisini's internal psychic flexibility permits him identification with and portrayals of a wide range of characters and themes.

A female guard is peeking at a well-built imprisoned man.

The artist shows that the quest for happiness was endless and vain for him until he stopped searching outside for something that he was not able to find in the world of senses and turned inward.

"Freedom of thought" is a work that, in a way, illustrates the turning point of the human life when one often gets back one's ability to see the stars from the gates of hell, as Dante writes.

"My guide and I came on that hidden tunnel to make our way back into the shining world; and with no time for rest, we climbed -- he first, then I -- until I saw, through a round aperture, those things of beauty Heaven holds. It was from there, at last, that we emerged to see again the stars."

Yustas Kotz-Gottlieb