Art in Nature by Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal

By Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal

An aged caretaker at a wide open air exhibition, referred to as artwork in Nature, reveals couple have lingered directly to bicker concerning the price of an image; he has a stunning recommendation that may get to the bottom of either their row and his personal ambivalence concerning the paintings marketplace. A draughtsman’s obsession with drawing locomotives presents a gloomy twist to a love tale. A cartoonist takes over the paintings of a colleague who has suffered a anxious breakdown in simple terms to find that his personal sanity is in danger.

In those witty, sharp, usually disquieting tales, Tove Jansson unearths the fault-lines in our courting with paintings, either as artists and as shoppers. Obsession, ambition, and the discouragement of critics are all introduced into concentration in those clever and cautionary stories.

Translated into English for the 1st time by way of Thomas Teal.

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And we stopped speaking crudely and awkwardly like greenhorns who think that you have to have the last word on everything and that speaking the truth is always permissible, which is nothing more than a way of excusing brutes and schoolteachers. That’s why we spoke in a refined kind of way, as best we could manage, for we cursed like demons, believe you me, but with enormous care and delicacy. ‘Dicky’ we said and ‘good old fellow’ and nothing about the wind which ended after us or about the floating coffin which was coming to an end with us, or the water which was without end.

I think so too,’ said the fishmonger in a monotone. ’ ‘If you frighten somebody it is usually harder to kill him, wouldn’t you say? He keeps a lookout, hears every leaf rustle, stops going into the wood where the thick branches are. ’ ‘Did you think I was? I’m not a dog. ’ ‘Yet this business has been on your mind all day long. ’ ‘I don’t understand you. I think you’re too keen to create an effect. ’ ‘The man whose warning led to what you call the murder? ’ ‘Yes, that leaves some points to be cleared up, or just one really.

For one of us – his name no longer carries any weight on this planet, it refers to nothing, though once it introduced a man who wasn’t all that fat, with red hair and two teeth missing and a faint talent for cooking – one of us, I say, now said something which we noted carefully and still recall many years afterwards, and I don’t intend to forget it today. On the contrary, I can still remember him standing up with his glass and walking up to the bulkhead and carrying the glass along and putting it on a small table as he said it, and doing so in such a way that it wasn’t quite certain whether he was putting much thought into it.

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