Κόσμον ἄειδε, Τύρνερ
So last night my wonderful friend invited me to a free night at the MIA (its normally free, but this time the special exhibition was free too). That special exhibit was a pretty eclectic collection of “drawings” of different kinds which were supposed to be like practice pieces of various sorts for real paintings almost like studies or steps in a painter’s method or something from lots of different painters—van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Oldenberg, Warhol, Lichtenstein—lots of em.
But the one they had for Turner was a really small watercolor maybe as big as an 81/2 by 11. The color pallet was extremely limited—maybe 3 or 4 shades of blue and gray or blue-gray—and it consisted of a large sweep starting at the middle of the bottom curving up towards the right and the spiraling back into the middle at the top without returning to the bottom or even the middle of the canvas. And then to the left, maybe a more brown tinted, much much smaller swath that partially mimicked the other’s course. You could pretty clearly see how it could metamorph into one of Turner’s seascapes with a boat and clear sky being consumed by an ominous cloud linked with an equally ominous wave.
I think my favorite thing about it, though, was at the bottom in the middle, where the main spiral started, was not merely one stroke, but a few layers of watercolor that stacked on top of each other, imbricated, like multiple splashes of water. And I say splashes because the form that appeared was exactly that of water fanning out, cresting, yet cohering together, taking the shape of liquid free from space, and ultimately collapsing downward, only to be pulled upward in a fantastic display of kinetic energy sombered by the heavy dark blue-black tones.
I was compelled to stare, gaping, as I thought about those splashes for a while and let myself be carried over, around, and up and in that moment my soul felt the universe live, die, and be born again and everything seemed to fit into place according to how things are, kata kosmon.