The Scream, Edvard Munch.

The Scream, Edvard Munch.

Amazing how things come to you exactly when you need them. I've noticed this for a very long time, but I often ignore it because it's too hard.  There is often too much fear in really wanting to listen. But what I am supposed to hear doesn't give up anymore. It keeps coming back. Today a conversation with my sister... about what I am doing, trying to make a way with my art, and where I am headed with it, and what I am avoiding. 

This road requires so much trust. Trust is a thing that has taken a real beating in my life in the last few years. But somehow it must be recovered. And the first place it must be recovered, if it is to be renewed at all, is at the canvas. If I don't dare to express myself there I surely will not do it anywhere else.

My sister mentioned Edvard Munch's painting, The Scream, a phenomenal work, it's honesty so raw. My sister doesn't tread lightly with me. But as with her and all my closest friends, I hate her and love her for it.

So after our visit this morning, I came home and looked on my shelf for a book I had read about ten years ago.  A book that shook the foundations for me at the time, and forever changed the way I look at some elemental things in my life.  When I pulled it off the shelf I noticed there was still a bookmark in it.  I opened it there and saw it was still marking the passage I wanted to find. The book is called See Under: Love and is written by David Grossman. Grossman's book is the story of a child of Holocaust survivors. It was the first time I'd read anything that came close to describing that experience, and nothing has compared since. His main character, Bruno (Momik), was me in so many ways. There are large parts of that book that I have read over and over and it is still one of the best things I have ever read. There is a passage in it where Grossman describes Bruno's encounter with Munch's painting. He describes it this way: 

  "They displayed Munch's painting in the farthermost corner of the gallery (so disturbing was it to them), in the midst of his milder, more colorful works.  It was cordoned off, with a sign in Polish and German saying: DO NOT TOUCH
  Idiots. They should have protected the public from the painting, not the other way around. That figure on the wooden bridge, mouth open in a scream, had deeply touched him. Kissing it there in the gallery, Bruno felt infected. Or perhaps the kiss had brought a latent infection to life. Now Bruno walks past the heavy boats, rolling his eyes and twisting his lips as the scream from the painting makes its way from heart to mouth, like a fetus whose time has come.
...Slowly God puts his toys away. Bruno knew: the kind of perfection Munch discovered was either a mistake or a case of serendipity. Because someone had bungled it. Someone somewhere distracted momentarily had leaked the truth out in the wrong quarters. Bruno wondered how many pictures Munch had dashed off in a panic to blur the strong impression of his intrusion into that forbidden zone. Munch himself, must have been staggered by his catch."

I have learned that love and fear cannot coexist. What I am seeing is that this is true in everything in life, not just in relationships. It is true also in my work.  If fear cannot be banished, then love has no room to get in, and truth then, cannot find its way in either. And I want to love my work. All the time. If there is anything I know I have always wanted in my life, it is truth. I want it in my work, in my relationships, and in whatever I touch and whatever touches me.

When the messages come from multiple places in a myriad of ways, eventually there is no avoiding the inevitable. I may not ever get to the kind of truth that Munch got to, but I have to at least be on that road and speaking my own truth. Thankfully it can be a truth wrapped up in love.  I realize I've said this before, hopefully this time I mean it - expect some different paintings that are in the midst of my milder, more colourful works.  It seems indeed that G-d has put his toys away....

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