A dear friend who combined dual professions of artist and monk once said, “No painting is worth owning unless it opens the gate of dreams.” A magical phrase, isn’t it? To open the gate of dreams — Sure enough, the visit to Yale provided me with several such “keys.”
Here we go, then, through this sculptural gate —- into the world of Edward Hopper, stark and sunlit and lonely, realistic and abstract and surrealistic all at once. Yale is rich in Hoppers. There are three hanging together in one room. Here’s the one I entered into this visit:
A motel room somewhere in the American West, mountains, a car, a bed, two bags, a shaft of sunlight, a woman gazing — at us? into her thoughts? her memories? No numbers on the clock, no bulb in the lamp, what is going on here? Such bright sunlight, and yet the room — to me — is haunted.
Another painting, by a painter of whom I’d never heard before, simply riveted me. Kerry James Russell, her name is. This is a detail of her large self-portrait, Untitled. Brilliant colors lighting up a blinding whiteness, stark velvety black of skin so powerfully there, a beam of energy emanating from the whites of the artist’s eyes transfixing the viewer — A photo can’t do justice to that effect, it has to be experienced. A strong woman, an intense woman, what would it be like to meet Kerry James Russell? What is she like? A wonderment.
But my dreams are not only about profound and serious matters. They are also often about food, which I consider a profound and serious matter as well. Wayne Thiebaud has become famed for his portraits of food, especially of cakes, pies, pastries and candy. If there is a theme to Thiebaud’s work, I might describe it by the well-worn saying, Life is short, eat dessert first. And yet his paintings, like Hopper’s, combine realism and abstraction and surrealism all at once. Clearly that combination is really powerful for me, so often unlocking the gate of my own dreams.
Perhaps one of these works provides you, too, with a key to the gate of your dreams. Perhaps they don’t, but there are others which do. Perhaps you’d comment on what painting or artwork does that for you, even post a link to it, if you like. I’m curious to learn about your gate of dreams!