Mark on his Painting: “Pat Cash occupies a special place in my young tennis heart. He was someone we all aspired to in Australia. At the junior tournaments we all wore the chequered head band and everyone leapt at the ball just that little bit harder mimicking Cash’s athleticism. This was the thing that most captivated me: the physical way he played the game. The way he held the court with his body. All quarters covered like some prowling cat.”
When I first saw Mark’s painting I was floored. Cash’s tree-trunk legs their geography aboriginal lush rainforest primordial green-yellow strength roots lions birds and five necked guitars wearing white checkered headbands leaping overhead Cash’s headband a tribute to Rick Nielson, the virtuoso lead guitarist of Cheap Trick, rockin’ the intro to “Ain’t that a Shame,” fingers flying higher and faster musical/unmusical ecstasy elemental cezanne-like brush thick varied leaves ferns blinding white light. Wimbledon’s dress codes. Pastoral, pristine grass. How many tennis players in the 80s’—Pat, John, Vitas, Mats–dreamed of exchanging their tennis racquets for electric guitars?
Jack Black was right. The best way to stick it to the man is rock n’ roll. Wimbledon was the man in 1987 when Cash won his only grand slam title with consistent volleying, strong serving, superb athleticism, enough good returns. Like the rock guitarist he wanted to be, Cash broke with tradition and climbed into the crowd. Royalty was aghast. Tennis celebrations would never be the same. Have a few beers. Get out your racquets. Plug in AC-DC, the Stones.
Artist Bio: “Pat” is painted by Mark Shorter. This work is the result of a collaborative dialogue of art and words on famous Australian tennis players with Mark Shorter, the endlessly innovative Australian artist and head of sculpture at the University of Melbourne. My thanks to Gertrude Contemporary, the leading incubator of contemporary art in Australia, for hooking us up. You can check out our previous collaborations here.
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