This image features stock image vintage illustrations of hand shadow puppets.

Letters To What We Want is a series of letters composed by friends, responding to the question ‘What do you want? In 2021 and beyond?’. The format was left open, as was the choice to sign off anonymously or with a pseudonym.

In exchange, I sent them an artwork, which can be viewed at the end of the post.

A friend once said to me many years ago: “Those who desire nothing have nothing to offer.” Although he and I have since fallen out, for some reason or other, his offhand comment (to which he later said he had no recollection of) stuck with me. 

Over time, it mutated into a kind of personal artistic mantra, with the implication that as an artist, I should always have desire (or a whole orgy of desires) in order to create. 

But it would be disingenuous of me not to admit that it irritates me: this constancy of wanting.

Those who practice asceticism say that desire will only lead to suffering, and that it should be the goal of every soul who seeks enlightenment to let go of all earthly desires. 

I wish I had the courage of spirit to go down such the so-called middle path. Alas, I’m no spiritual purist. My body remains irritated by wants and needs. 

Like everyone, I wish to love and be loved. To receive validation for one’s existence and achievements would be fucking amazing. To one day swim and dance with friends again would be heaven. 

But in order to have these things, so goes the strange logic of my personal mantra, I have to offer many things in return. In a way, this painting is one such offering.

It’s an interpretation of Janus, the Roman god of endings and beginnings, of passages and portals, of transitional periods. He’s an in-between deity, someone you pray to when you’re neither here nor there, which explains why he has two faces: one looking at the past, the other toward the future.

It’s a weird time to be alive. People sometimes say you never know what you have until you’ve lost it. But I think it’s ok to let things go; the unburdening of the spirit is something I think all of us can have more of.

– Jerome Kugan, Originally writer, musician, then artist

Image of Country Musik: Movements #3, given in exchange for this letter.
An edition of this work is available in the shop.