The Lover on the Wall

September 18, 2013

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I knew what it would feel like to be really be in love – soul changing, for-all-time love – because I knew it would have to feel like it did the first time I saw this painting hanging in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

 

Vasily Kandinsky Sketch 160A, 1912 Houston Museum of Fine Arts

Vasily Kandinsky Sketch 160A, 1912
Houston Museum of Fine Arts

It’s been 20 years since I last saw it. I fixed that today.

This painting was what kept me in dark auditoriums in college – chasing that feeling, that invisible force against your chest, that suspended, breathless moment when something vibrates on the wall or screen. When your eyes glitter. When you can taste wine in your mouth even if you’re not holding a glass.

I am the girl that will consider a painting at a distance, but, if it catches me, prefers to stand close to the painting – to see each stroke, trying to guess what the artist was thinking or feeling or considering when he added it. I am lost in looking for hidden layering of color like some sort of visual CSI agent, wondering what caused a drip or some disconnected additional stroke.

Because of those dark auditoriums, I quickly learned I was drawn to 20th century European artists and their abandon with color, their tangible brush strokes, their violent light. There was something raw about them that reminded me of other things I was learning about myself. But, over and over and over again it was Kandinsky that sang to me – like a lover’s hoarse whisper in my ear.

Twenty years. It’s shameful to admit that, to know I pushed something aside that was so visceral and important to me at one time. It felt good to stand there again, to conjure those feelings – as if I was sandwiched between that before me and the idea that someone I could lean into was behind me, if only I’d close my eyes.

Going today was a bit like trying on a favorite pair of heels long forgotten in the closet. I’m glad this was part of my week around town. The shoes need some stretching, but the memories of dancing in them still remain – and my new museum membership will ensure it won’t be another twenty years lost.

It was good to see you again, old friend. 

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2 Responses to “The Lover on the Wall”

  1. Neil Says:

    As someone who can’t wait to go to France to just see one painting, I really loved your description of how this painting makes you feel.

    Reply

    • pamlewis Says:

      Thank you, Neil. Your comment means a lot. If I may ask – which painting is it you are going to see?

      (I’m headed there in April and am wondering if I might might be caught by another, but can’t begin to guess which one it will be. There is something about a delicious anticipation or surprise, isn’t there?)

      Reply

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