Day at the Museum: On the Question of Seeing

Some weekends ago, I met up for lunch with Jee, a dear friend of mine and talented retail analyst and curator.  Having stuffed ourselves with the scrumptious food to be had over at Moma’s Cafe, we decided to partake in a much needed stroll over at MoMA’s permanent collections. Our promenade around MoMA’s floors was backed by the soft, intermittent patterings of female chatter– a soundtrack characteristic of a robust friendship such as ours. The program for the day revolved around the kinds of art we each liked and didn’t like.

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Got to see our favorite art together, Jee’s Chagall to my Magritte. Jee brought me to see this painting by Chagall. Marc Chagall was a French-Russian artist who was well regarded for masterfully synthesizing multiple art forms. This painting, I and the Village, boasts and imaginative and buoyant spirit though its bright color schemes and dream-like qualities. It’s said that the painting was meant to be a visual home for his memory of and relationship with the homeland he grew up in. I go back to my own memories of my childhood, and am content and grateful to feel things kindred to the ones here.
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I decided I wanted to emulate the painting’s spirit fully and be the horse– quickly remembered this is a public space and venerable museum– so I stopped.

I’ve always been fascinated by the individualities of seeing, how two people can regard the same object and come out with very different perceptions. So often do I come across a situation where one person finds something to be profoundly beautiful/good, while another comes to the polar opposite, yet equally certain conclusion for it (take this entire US election debacle, like how is that possible??! but the fact of the matter is, it is).

This conundrum is something I desire to understand on a deeper level:  What are the makeups that have constructed the way you and I presently see and react to the realities and the stimuli around us?

What are the recurring laws or patterns if any, that can help me to understand? Maybe a knowledge in perceptual psychology, neuroscience (Read this fascinating article on how political orientations are correlated with brain structure in young adults), and an aptitude for emotional intelligence would help, mais quoi d’autre?

I know that for me at least, art helps to explore this question further. In this practice of seeing, I am able to dig a little deeper into myself – my memories, my feelings, my hopes, my disappointments, & the thoughts and the hearts of the people in my circle. And in doing so, I find I understand life a little bit better.

I wonder what devices you rely on to see.

Happy Election Eve..

Bises,

Soo

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Rene Magritte & the Terror of Blind Love

Painted by acclaimed French surrealist, Rene Magritte, The Lovers or Les Amants portrays the busts of two lovers in embrace, each face clothed and masked by a thick, opaque cloth.

Visual aids are emblems of the two lovers’ intimacy fiercely in consummate display, an intimacy that can be seen burgeoning with beautiful and quiet desperation. A feeling of being overcome by love shines brightly, albeit momentarily, until a much stronger and gripping undercurrent of detachment takes the focal point of our gaze, carrying all of its severity, with white cloth acting as catalyst.

The mid to dark-tone colorways that Magritte employs are subtle and unobtrusive enough to service also in the detachment between viewer and art subject.

Our gaze is swept off-kilter. We survey upon the scene of the lovers’ embrace as if looking one meter too far from that which is necessary to obtain maximum impact.

“Blindness”

 

Anxiety Creeps in,

Despair Prevails.

 

Too often we desperately seek to carry on a love stillborn.