Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Face to face

Heidi's last painting. It was inspired by a picture in an art gallery in Spain. It consisted of as single  profile. Heidi added the second. The reproduction does it little justice I am afraid. It hangs now above our dining table and reminds me of the original encounter in the gallery and the long hours H put in to think it through. We seemed  to agree  when it was completed to call it Face to Face.

A kind, peaceful and hopeful New Year to all of you.

In dealing with feelings and sentiments at a time like this, I find myself defining sentimentality as much as I seek to avoid it. It occurs to me that there are slushy songs that make us tremble for a moment with a tear in the offing. But  even if we get as far as goosebumps we make mental reservations almost immediately, know that we are dealing with  fantasy and allow ourselves a sad smile, before turning to more profound, original and truly helpful thoughts. It strikes me forcibly that somewhere over the rainbow the absence of blue birds prevail in a vacuum of horrors. And I am sorry, it is not and probably never has been a "wonderful world", wonderful as it would be if that were exclusively true. It is the lies that make sentimentality unacceptable.

5 comments:

Rouchswalwe said...

Fantasy is more distressing to me than honesty. I have to agree with you that it isn't a "wonderful world."

Heidi's "Face to face" speaks to me, though. And I wish you kindness, peace, and hope in 2014 as well. Thank you!

Tom said...

I would like to add something to Rouchswalwe's supportive comment, and that is that it isn't often that we suffer great loss of any kind. I know, however, that when we face times such as these, when death obliges us to face the sharp end of life, we are at our most human. Sometimes, a dose of sentimentality helps; yes, even with the lies as well. If that gets you from one moment to the next, so what? Perhaps now is not the time for 'profound, original and truly helpful thoughts.' Each to its season, huh? No, it's not a wonderful world, but there are a great deal of wonderful things in it. The good and bad will always stand face to face. Somewhere between the two is what we seek. I'm sure you will find it.

Joe Hyam said...

R Thank you. I'm so glad you like the picture. Sorry you can't see the original. Like all her pictures it I quite large. About 2 metres by I metre.

Tom I do agree with you. It is a wonderful world. I know. The words even comfort me. But as I try to say, I, we have yo look for a balance.

Lucy said...

It's the music, I think, that snags at one, the banal and sentimental words alone probably wouldn't move you much, even at such a time, but the plangent melodies can. I've heard some people in the aftermath of loss say they simply can't listen to any music at all, it undoes them unbearably, and songs which they wouldn't even notice normally can catch at their emotions unexpectedly. Others find sentimentality a welcome release, without necessarily blinding themselves to the nature of it.

Go a little easy on yourself, Joe; You won't settle for false comfort, of course, but let yourself be comforted nevertheless.

No, not a wonderful world, a terrible, broken one; the thousand natural shocks are bad enough never mind the rest, even those of us who've been let off lightly can see that. But yes, there are still wonderful things in it, and one of them is that painting.

Wishing you peace and wonder for the coming year, dear friend.

Roderick Robinson said...

You are well placed to reflect on the horrors of sentimentality. That it is often an accidental rather than an intentional defect doesn't make it any the less distressing. The abiding problem with sentimentality is, in oenological terms, its long legs. It may persist. Repetition strengthens rather than weakens it. The universal specific against sentimentality is simplicity since - at a guess - I'd say sentimentality is undesirably complex. However simplicity is a rare commodity and is frequently unavailable in our travails.

Just to prove me wrong Heidi's painting is both simple and complex but we as spectators are able to adjust our own criteria when we contemplate an image. It is the simplicity I respond to and I agree that this is her best work. Given its intractable size I wonder if it might be possible to have a smaller reproduction made so that others might profit from a copy. Both you and I are aware of the corrupting tendencies of the photo-reducing process but then if Turner survives it (we have two prints of his bought at the Tate) perhaps Heidi may too.