Sunday, June 30, 2013

Two Hearts on Canvas

A mysterious painting has drawn me here every day.  I gaze upon it and let my thoughts wonder.  The image on the canvas is foreboding, but I don’t think I’m alone in experiencing the almost insufferable sense of loneliness that it conveys.  This latter thought strangely comforts me.
I’ve been coming to this art gallery for nearly a week now.  At first I just sort of wandered around aimlessly, initially more interested in the sculptures than the engravings and paintings.  Full disclosure: I know very little about art, but I needed some kind of inspiration and figured a visit to the gallery would get me out of my funk.  Things haven’t been so great for me these days.  My life is in a state of flux and I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of self-doubt.  Last month I was essentially laid off from my job of fourteen years, though I was the last person at work to know.  I have other issues in my life right now that I don’t care to share.  Well, if you must know, I’m estranged from my parents and even before the layoff I’d been experiencing an “existential crisis,” if I can coin that outmoded phrase.  So viewing art, and one painting in particular, has been my only outlet and a diversion from my problems.
The artist managed to create two hearts in one crimson brushstroke and set it against a wispy, swirling grey background.  She called her work simply “A Brushstroke,” probably to make it absolutely clear that she pulled this image off with one remarkable move of the hand and wrist.  The artistry and simplicity of this canvas captured my imagination, admittedly not at the first viewing.  I kept coming back to this painting, as it resonated with my memories and life experience.
Maybe something else brings me here almost every day.  As I stood gazing at this painting on my second visit to the gallery, I became aware of a woman sitting on an ottoman near the wall opposite the framed picture.  She let me know with a polite clearing of her throat that I had been obstructing her view.  I moved to the left and offered an apology with my body language.  She had been writing or etching something into a pad of paper, so I assumed she was an art student.  Why was she so interested in this painting too?

You might find it odd that we didn’t interact.  I mean, why should we?  We’re complete strangers.   We exchanged courteous smiles as she got up to leave the gallery an hour later.  I thought I saw deep solitude in her eyes, but I later surmised that I was looking at my reflection mirrored back to me.  The next day, however, we spoke.  She asked me what I thought of the painting.  She said she’s getting a masters in art therapy and studying the effect that art can have on a person’s disposition.  This painting, she conceded in perhaps an unguarded moment, had captivated her but she didn't know why.  I told her I would tell her what I think over coffee at the diner.  We stepped outside and walked across a rain-soaked street under an overcast sky.