Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Art as Meditation

Self Portrait, Durer

The one thing that has kept me going throughout my life was art.  Whether I was making it, looking at it, reading about it or watching a documentary about it, I always felt better with art around me.  It was and is the only thing that can break into one of my OCD/anxiety episodes and stop it dead in its tracks, most of the time at least.  So I am grateful for art, without it I would be a quivering heap of fear and self-loathing.  Art is my religion in a way that religion was never able to be for me.
            Certain paintings have stopped me in my tracks and taken my breath away.  They have taken me away to somewhere else; a dark, calm, quiet place.  Durer’s Self Portrait from 1500, Jacque Louis David’s The Death of Marat, Ramon Casas’En Plein Air, La Tour’s The Newborn, Pissarro’s The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, Raphael’s  Madonna della Granduca -  I feel like they are all inside of me wrapped up in every cell and combined with my DNA.  I can connect to them with the thought that I come from a long line of art that starts with the beginning of mankind.
            When I was in college my art history classes were better than church, yoga, alcohol, meditation and therapy combined.  I was always disappointed when they were over; they were such an escape for me.  Especially in Fall and Winter, my favorite seasons, I would be inside the warm, dark classroom, the slide projector flashing one beautiful image after another, the professor’s calm quiet voice – it was like being in the womb or some safe cave of wonderfulness. My favorite images were from the Renaissance especially paintings of the Madonna and Child.  When I am able to live out my lifelong dream of being a wealthy recluse I will have a room wallpapered with Renaissance images of the Madonna and Child - I have put some extensive thought into what I call ‘the best room ever.’  

The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, Pissarro
Besides Madonna and Child images, I have a specific obsession with images of the Annunciation, my favorite one is by Joos van Cleve and it is at the Metropolitan so I can go see it whenever I feel particularly crappy.  It is so beautiful it can make you forget everything horrible for a short while.  The flow of the angel Gabriel’s robes, the Holy Spirit, represented as a white dove, floating down to Mary, Mary’s soft white skin.  That painting helps me feel better and that is what I love most about art – it can stop you in your tracks and fill your head or heart with overwhelming feelings and thoughts that cannot be emoted with words.

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