from “Despair”

There are, of course, paintings that express despair. We see this in works of Munch and Vermeer, of Van Gogh and Goya, among other artists. We see faces overcome with grief and bodies twisted by violence. We see rooms set with impenetrable shadows. There are also paintings that leave space for a kind of middle way. There are landscapes cut by a single path and a person walking alone. There are streets scenes where the light is colored by rain. We see a line through sand or a way up a mountain, and we choose which way we to go. These are paintings of both possibility and absence. They can break us, too, and this is true for paintings of either lightness or despair. I carry some of these paintings with me. I recall times in museums and cathedrals where I have looked at art of inexpressible beauty. It is an occasion many of us have lived. I look again and again at the few paintings in my home. They are like windows from which I can look and see other worlds. They are here. They are in the everyday and where I live.

“Out of Despair”