HAMLET: Good my lord, will you see the players well
bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for
they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
time: after your death you were better have a bad
epitaph than their ill report while you live.
There are many reasons why I’ve decided to undertake this endeavor, and I’ll probably mention them all in due time, but the deepest one is this: if ever I envied other people’s vocations, it was that of Shakespearean actors. Not because of fame or limelight, but because their minds and memories, I imagined, must be filled with Shakespeare’s verse to the brim, so that it cannot help but influence the very wiring of their brains.
Yet this profession was about as inaccessible for me as that of a ballerina or an opera singer. I cannot really complain about the set of abilities I happened to be born with — I could get a Ph.D. in computer science with them if I wanted to – but, alas, acting just isn’t one of them. To be sure, I could (and did) fill my head with Shakespeare just for the sake of it, but I knew it wasn’t the same as to do it with a meaningful purpose, to make it a part of one’s work, of one’s possible contribution to the world.
I could, I suppose, become a scholar of Shakespeare, but by then whatever lust for philological scholarship I possessed had been fully spent on the Yukaghir language, a much less popular, albeit no less fascinating subject – so that this idea didn’t even cross my mind. I wanted something more direct, more immediate – and when I somehow stumbled on the idea of painting the sonnets, it struck me as just the right combination of seriousness, absurdity and audacity. It hasn’t disappointed – now my mind is being re-wired by Shakespeare in the very way I used to imagine.