I found my new treasure last week. A book about Pre-Raphaelites, Masterpieces of Art by Gordon Kerr.
The paintings depict religious figures as normal people, then aspects of the society of the era and love and female beauty.
The strong emotional concepts of the paintings are so natural but never overstated. There was a painting of a sailor boy who learned about the passing of his mother after his return from the sea. The boy’s face is partially buried on the green grass, his cheeks red. His emotion is not shown directly, but by the face of a female figure next to him. It’s natural and beautiful.
The book makes me feel the strong empathy by the artists to the ordinary human suffering. The paintings never ridicule but wrap their subjects in a gentle fabric of artistic expression. Jesus stretching his arms in leisurely, his shadow accidentally being cast on a wood beam resembling his crucifixion, his mother shocked by the realization. His face is carefree and gay, maybe even stupidly so, yet this must be how the person lived in the real world.
The pictures surprise and I love to be surprised by art. “Art is love”, the book states. Maybe art is kind of celebration of human, the love expressed by the passion and sometimes chosen suffering of the artist, to express a higher truth about our existence.
For me art offers a kind of safe room to think about my life and past.
I wish we could live our lives more spiritually, celebrating our desire and existence.