In the summer of 1982, Jean-Michel and his girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk lived
in my apartment for an extended time. It was around this time that
Jean-Michel was experiencing a severe creative block. Annina Nosei,
Jean-Michel's art dealer, suggested that he take a vacation. Adventurously,
he decided on Puerto Rico. As he lay on his bed one morning, he scribbled
the word "Culebra" on the wall of my apartment with an oil crayon while he
was talking to a travel agent on the phone. That is where he decided to
go-an island off the coast of Puerto Rico. Jean-Michel was half Puerto
Rican, and he spoke fluent Spanish. He was also a genius when it came to
knowing the Latin root of certain words.
When he returned to New York, Jean-Michel told me that the bungalow he had
rented was completely trashed. He had painted with such passion and
enthusiasm that the result was a creative explosion of paint all over the
carpets, furniture, and walls of his expensive resort bungalow.
He had to make a quick escape from Culebra because the resort manager was
hot on his trail for all the damages. I could only imagine the condition of
the place that he left behind. Upon his return to New York City, Jean-Michel
came into my living room and flung the painting called Arroz Con Pollo
(Chicken With Rice) on the floor in front of me.