Friday, April 5, 2013


A tiny group for the "One Hour/One Painting" session last night, but that was okay.  As one participant pointed out, the intimacy alone created a special energy that worked in our favor.  The Gilah Hirsch painting we sat with is called "And Now We Are Free"...

Gilah Yelin Hirsch, "And Now We Are Free,"  2011, acrylic on canvas,  64" x 80"  
(This is not a great reproduction, particularly when it comes to the color.  The greens and blues, particularly, are far more intense in the original, as are the contrasts between areas of light and dark.  But it does convey a sense of the painting's overall structure and the variety and relationship of its images.)

It's a large, complex picture with great areas of transparency and scumbled underpainting, along with numerous, orb-like images of varying size and texture at the surface, some seemingly solid, some diaphanous or gaseous in appearance, creating the sense of gazing into a remote corner of the cosmos, a spiraling galaxy--or beneath the surface of an ocean populated by as-yet undiscovered species; or yet, more intimately, the anatomical, feminine, womb-like generative core of human being.  The foreground images, however, resembling great ears of wheat, return us to our own planet Earth and the more fundamental, nutritional requisites of human life.  Much to think about, and much to feel.  The overall darkness can leave the viewer with a certain discomfort, relieved here and there by promising glimmerings of light.  An interesting and challenging painting to spend time with.

Once again, per Ellie's suggestion, I introduced that ten-minute break from the intensity of meditation and contemplation in the middle of the session; and once again it proved to be a useful strategy.  It allows participants a moment of release from their own silence, and the opportunity to create something of a bond between us as a group.  The ideas and feelings that come up in the brief discussion offer insights that can be built upon in the second half, whether by myself as the facilitator or individually by participants as they sit and contemplate the paintings surfaces.  It's like resurfacing for air in the course of an underwater dive, before heading back to the depths for a second exploration.

I learn more and more from the experience each time--not only about the different paintings that we look at, but from the experience itself.  As I pointed out at the end of the session yesterday, it's not so much about the individual art work as it is about the looking--which is in itself an art, and a skill that becomes more finely tuned each time you have the opportunity to practice.  I have offered more sessions now that I could count, and still enjoy the refinement of my own skills in the process.

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