It was completely irresponsible to drive to Boston and spend the Monday of a packed week at the Museum of Fine Arts, but that’s just what I did yesterday.
My husband had the day off after a week of being on-call at the hospital, and at first I couched the sortie as something he needed before returning to the clinic today. But it turns out, the expedition was a good reset for me, too.
Neither of us wanted to look at Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics. My resistance to viewing the busy, cartoonish paintings of this contemporary Japanese artist was all the red flag I needed to force myself to go. Reluctantly, Tim joined me in visual discomfort.
The best way I know to make sense of challenging art is to play a game of “I see,” naming the different elements in the painting. Both of us quickly fell into the first giant canvas, and our prejudices fell away as we looked and learned. It’s a spectacular exhibit that juxtaposes Murakami’s contemporary work with Japanese masterpieces from the MFA’s collection. I saw the connections, learned a bit about Japanese culture, and expanded my own store of metaphor. This was hard exercise for the visual processing part of my brain. My overworked linguistic muscles appreciated the rest.
Is rest the same as stillness? I think not, especially after viewing Seeking Stillness, another exquisitely curated show of meditative pieces in different media. I was drawn to the abstract paintings of Agnes Martin: white canvases with lines, like a piece of paper waiting for words.
These paintings contrasted sharply with the dark, color block work of Mark Rothko, hung in an adjoining room.
All these canvases showed me how paint can have texture, pattern, rhythm, line and color. Some paintings told stories; some were intellectual challenges; others simply/complexly emotion.
We finished with a stroll through an ongoing exhibit of modern paintings, before stepping outside in the late afternoon, where the sky looked like a seventeenth-century Dutch landscape, and the fenestration of a building across the fen looked like a Mondrian.
I highly recommend an artist date, especially if you don’t have the time; and I encourage you to look at art, especially art you think you don’t like.
Have you been on an Artist’s Date lately? Where did you go? What did you see?
Here’s a photo of Women Walking and Writing Toward Wisdom last Saturday, where we learned tools to nurture and listen our wise, inner voice.
You can learn more about what I write and the professional services I offer at Deborah Lee Luskin.