Mate [model] Muse

What does the title of this picture mean? Is ‘Mate [model] Muse’ a tri-partite title belonging to one amazing woman or is that merely a fantasy born of a lifetime of daydreams and imagined-to-be-returned gazes remembered?

If there were a model for this picture of a painting she’d be real, a ‘sensory’ drawn from life, but there was no model here. I’ve philosophically bracketed* her and left only my memory or fantasy. And I’ve grammatically bracketed her making her the explanatory ‘word’ that makes sense of the out-of-context quote.

A model is real. Model explains the mate and muse thing. She can be muse-like (an inspiration) or mate-like (a working partner.) A mate can, in theory, be a model and a muse too but that’s beside the point.

I’ve also bracketed her pictorially. Because I, the maker of the picture-of-a-picture being made, don’t use models. I would if I could, but all I’ve ever had is fantasies based on memories and possibilities based on improbabilities. It’s not ideal but it works.

If the model was in my ‘studio’ she’d be now re-presented as she was, in the center of the picture. But she’s not there. She’s only there as a re-re-presentation in the painting-in-the-picture where she’s both mine and the painter-in-the-picture’s memory and fantasy.

So, I, like the phenomenologists, have erased the real from the picture. Sort of, it’s the gray pentimento in the center  faint but still connecting left and right.

Therefore this picture is not as simple as your typical artist in his studio painting from memory picture. There’s a hand on the right holding a brush redrawing the painting-in-the-picture of the now gone model, making it more intimate, muse-like, moving her arm so her breast can be seen. Is this hand an artist’s or is it on the painting-in-the-picture? How about the hand on the left? It is holding a woman who could be the absent model as well, now being mate-like. Does it belong to an artist, too?

*- Which I guess is ignoring as much of the physical/sensory and metaphysical as you can. To the philosophical bracketeer it’s all just random bits of light, silly pixels or 1s and 0s until he by attending and reflecting gives it meaning.  Kind of the opposite of grammatical bracketing, it subtracts rather than adds.