some things are difficult to look at, some people especially, some force you to turn away, others make it impossible.
years ago a friend gave me advice on how to combat this; ‘just stare at a place in line of sight but let your focus dissolve into an imaginary place in the middle distance’
this softened the harshness of many an awkward social engagement.
awareness is probably the sharpest tool an accomplished artist can use; cutting open and laying bare the broody reflections of unapologetic talent.
alice neel‘s work contains this hidden innocence within the uncomfortable ease of her sitters; thin portraits that come to life with a knowledge of their own self, the self of the viewer and the artist’s self.
a whispering intimacy of secrets and shared confidentiality.
lunch at the gemeente museum in the hague; transported to reality by the adolescent schoolboys taunting the ice on the pond while the young girls watch and wait giggling, the geriatric museum goers masticating in the self help restaurant, the general sadness of public attire.
a group of men settle down on a table next to mine, their composition is such one might imagine it’s visiting hours at the old age home. in fact the familial resemblances become a bit of a temporal vortex. i imagine the fathers at their sons’ ages and the sons at the fathers’ ages, i catch only parts of their conversations as they work through shared plates of apple tart.
whilst staring i must have forgotten my friend’s advice since most of them suddenly started to assume the characteristics of the exhibition’s portraits; it probably only shows how truthful neel’s exaggerations of reality can be.