Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Painter of Black Dots

A Painter of Black Dots

"People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love"
- Claude Monet

The French Impressionists, especially Monet, were interested in painting what the eye saw; and they saw the world in pure primary colours, in dabs of unmixed paint, laid side by side, to convey form, light and shadow. It was at that time, the late 19th century, a revolutionary way of painting.

If an impressionist painter were to look at an image on one of our modern computer screens, they will be more interested in each individual pixel of colour and not the meaning or forms conveyed by their cummulative effect: say an image of Paris Hilton.

A newborn baby looks at the world that way too: when he sees the world around him for the first time, he doesn't see faces, tables or chairs--it's just a blur of colours, of shifting light and darkness, of pure visual impressions, untainted by thought or judgement. Only later does he learn to distinguish the voice and face of his mother, the warmth, comfort and solidity of his surroundings. Then he learns to distinguish the things which he likes from those which he dislikes. And the world of pain and pleasure begins for him...

We need to learn how to look at the world like an impressionist painter and rediscover the wisdom which we possessed when we were newborns. To see things as they are, in their raw pristine form, without judgement, without thinking--at least for a brief moment, before the whole shebang takes over.

The problem with us is that we think and judge too much. Every sight and sound is immediately tainted by an idea and opinion the moment it hits our senses. These ideas and opinions immediately trigger a series of other ideas and opinions. And we don't see or hear what is in front of us anymore. We are always engrossed in the small world of our thoughts.

That's how our life gets into a rut sometimes. Everything you see around you triggers some kind of thought or emotion. They are invariably the same ones. So your life is always repetitive. Your entire world is but the few hundred cubic centimetres inside your skull.

I used to love painting during my schooldays. It is a very good hobby because it helps you to escape from that small world of your head. You learn to look at the world as it is: to look at an object or a scenery and observe its colour, it's light and shadow and then to translate them into dabs of paint on a blank canvas. It's a great meditative experience. When you paint, hours would pass by without you realising.

You are now reading these words on your computer screen and thoughts are appearing in your mind. Stop and stare at the screen for a while. Try for a moment to see the world like an impressionist painter. No thoughts should arise: all you see are black dots on a white background.

And that's all I've been doing all this while: a painter of tiny black dots, so that others might see them as black dots too.

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