August 17, 2010

Different, devoutly to be wished.

In the middle of June, I read in the Los Angeles Times of the death of a friend, Robert Shapazian. We had not seen each other for a long time.

I met Robert in Venice. Like all interesting encounters, we met by accident. Robert was, as was my father, of the old school—hence the initial attraction. We shared a wry sense of humor. He often smiled at his own petulant lamentations, like a naughty boy pleased with getting away with something. His views were enthusiastically unorthodox; different devoutly to be wished. Robert’s association with Lapis Press, a Venice-based book publishing company, allowed him to be part of creating publications that ”transcended the Superstore notion” of what constituted a book. Books that had an “unusual degree of presence, for people who were both textually and visually aware and literate". During his time as the director of the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, I deduced from our conversations, that the politics and the responsibilities of a director were in opposition to his own beliefs.

We also shared being “born to the soil”. Born on land that produced the income that allowed us to be free to explore, to travel and study beyond its borders. Alas, no matter how far you may travel; your early way of life leaves its mark. The first sentence Robert ever spoke to me, we were both standing in front of  Florian's, watching the rain, “I can wake up one morning in Paris, and, half-asleep, thinking of the crop, tell myself, ‘My God, it’s raining, what are we going to do?’”.

In infinite gratitude for shining a light.

1 comment:

Catherine Aragon said...

I am utterly saddened by Roberts death; I’ve been wanting to write to him, find him, thank him for years of happiness he’s brought to my life and now it’s too late.