Expressive Eyes

The other night I went to a local art event. Of course, I followed the crowd of people pausing at one art piece after the other, finding myself standing and staring for seconds, but not really seeing, as a thousand different thoughts ran through my head, so that what I saw were inked lines or pencil sketches devoid of any meaning or reality for me. And once I would leave the painting or drawing, I would instantly forget just what it was I actually saw. I’m certain this must be the experience of the majority of onlookers. We want to look interested, raising our eyebrows, widening our eyes, rubbing the undersides of our chins, asking questions of the artists. What it takes to really see a piece of art is for some aspect of the piece – a blend of colors, a shape – to cause a sensation or impression within us in the present that mirrors at one and the same time the past. Only then can our imagination take pleasure in the beauty. Such an incident I imagine to be rare. And maybe this is what inspires one to stand longer than usual in front of a painting. I saw no piece of art that night that stirred my imagination, not for lack of talent on the part of the artists, but due to the lack of evocation of involuntary memory. The one thing that left an impression was not any art piece, but a comment made to me by an older gentleman as I backed away from staring blankly at a work of art: “If only I had a frame right now…you have the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen.” His words transported me to place I thought impossible – that of an observer outside of myself, seeing my own eyes. And I saw and felt my own large, expressive eyes, which reflected bewilderment, and maybe a bit of sadness too.

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