Modern Art: The portraits we wear
We wear portraits as our truths and let them shine unspoiled by certainty.
There is an art to designing portraits that capture perfectly the capstones of truth; one whose shadows are brilliantly cast to conceal imperfections; one that hides the truth in plain sight; one that fiercely exposes truth to create certainty; or one that isn't based on truth at all but a reflection of the portrait that was supposed to be. And there is also an art to deciphering them; recognizing the added light or intentionally ignoring the shadows to preserve a solacing naïveté.
It’s a good thing we are all artists portraying ourselves as we wish day by day. We wear portraits as our truths and let them shine unspoiled by certainty. Whether together or alone, in black and white or color, we paint portraits that we are asked and ask others to trust. It’s deciphering them that is at risk of becoming a lost art.
Reality and reflections of it have become indistinguishable
See, the problem is the torment of perfecting our works of art limits the time we dedicate to understanding others’ to a glimpse, or if they’re special, a glance, but seldom—if ever—do we bestow a stare. Yet, we convince ourselves that we can disentangle the portraits of others and identify truth with such confidence that we consider it a betrayal if we discover we were fooled. Indeed, in a world where both for better and worse, reality and reflections of it have become indistinguishable, it is an art to ask for trust and repeatedly give it.
In my opinion, the greatest art of all is simplicity. Blatant truths are both more and less demanding than portraits, more and less poetic, more and less innovative, and just as necessary. Without the safeguards of malleability disguised as creativity, there is no doubt. In the land of Obvious, we find an inflexible space waiting to restore our ability to exist beside honesty without crutching on faith.
The greatest art of all is simplicity.
And to our delight, the splendor of these arts are not mutually exclusive. With the right brush and a stroke of luck, they are even complementary. We can treasure our artistic skills at the sight of the portraits we create. We can applaud our inquisitive nature while we interpret the portraits of others. We can admire our ability to reconcile paradoxes. We can treasure the clarity of the pristine. And we can travel between these seamlessly.
Could we then, only for a moment, suspend the need for faith and take over the space we inadvertently create for doubt, lending the spotlight, instead, to unhindered emotions whose candor render faith unnecessary, so that in that moment, through the beauty of transparency, we can rest from the need to trust?
And in this moment, could you hold my hand? Could you let me see you? Could you take the time to see me?