Sometimes it is almost impossible to resist standing in the artist’s shoes. What he sees becomes what you see. How he sees it is the only way to see it. There is no background to interpret. No nuance to explore. Even the frame is one that he has chosen for you.
You become a man who sees a woman as light and dark. She is the temptress who drowns the sailors but she is also the mermaid who drags sailors’ barely breathing bodies onto a dark, volcanic shore. She is the mother who abandons her child. The mother who drowns her infant. The mother who weeps for her plague ravaged baby and throws herself in its grave. She is the woman who is framed, and contained and chained to a canvas by her mad, possessive, dominating lover.
No matter what might be your own choice as the ideal subject and object, lover and loved, when you stand before his painting you cannot resist feeling that you are alone in a windowless room waking from a night dream affair with a succubi – rapist of boys – his Madonna Mon Amort!
In such a room with such a picture, one does not simply get up and leave the museum or close the book. One marks the page so it can, thereafter, always be avoided. Nonetheless, when the light casts a band across a beautiful woman with dark hair and snow-white skin, you feel him stir in you again, that shadow who painted the picture, that artist who made of you the man you are now in this pitiless minute.