In this painting, the artist looks back from the present to his early years where a garden was a safe haven, a place where miracles happened and huge red apples fell to the ground from above. Under the shade of the green foliage, he took refuge from the demands of grown-ups. The future artist remembered it as a desirable, exclusive spot, a ‘neatly altered landscape within a landscape’ or a kind of tableau. In the words of Roger Caillois, “Man created a garden not for survival, but for pleasure.”
This exclusive spot nicely accommodates a game of pool. The green baize on a billiard table is like a canvas stretched on a frame, and the intricate trajectory, traced by the cue movements, resembles a pattern of brush strokes. Billiard symbolizes a return to the artist’s present, where playing with sticks is replaced by the use of a pool cue, brush and palette. The role of a garden coincides with the role of a painting. It is an image within an image: the pool table fitting into the garden as the present into the past. According to Caillois, “It is necessary to show that this is the very place where human creativity starts.” It is worth noting that the art of a painter and that of a billiard player also share a certain symbolic ritual. After a few preliminary strokes, a ball is pocketed with a final shot, just as a painting is finished with a crowning stroke of the brush (‘natural materials’ used in both cases). “Done!” exclaims the artist, and a new masterpiece is born. A sense of the joy of life and playing is upheld by the bright colors of the painting. The game aspect is supported by the figures of badminton players in the background, and a closer look reveals a secret allusion of people playing pool in the leaves of the trees.