Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stopped to smell

Walking to work the other day, I was struck by splotches of bright orange and red along the sidewalk. It was maple leaves blown down from trees lining an avenue I frequent to catch my morning train. A light rain falling made the leaves glisten in the immature morning light common at half past six. Everything looks clean, fresh, pure and ready to start. The air was free of smog and cigarettes. Stepping on the rain-moistened leaves cushions the gait as the water laden green carpet absorbs and lightens the walk. It was a glorious sight and one which could not be reproduced by human hand yet endlessly reproduced across the country by nature at this time of the year. It also made me reflect on the profusion of art that is prevalent around us and was happy for the moment that I took to stop and feel.

In this regard, the words of art critic Micheal Kimmelman rings true in his recent review of an exhibition in the NYT here.

Art works that way. It can turn up, unexpectedly, and once you see it, you can’t imagine how you missed it in the first place. The art is there in the worn, throwaway sheets, dog-eared or tattooed with the rusty imprints of paper clips. Art is about what’s inexplicable and out of the ordinary. Painting is the world’s oldest conjuring act, colored dirt smeared on a flat surface to create an illusion. We may know it’s not real, but we still enjoy seeing how the magic is done. But art — whether it’s the mnemonic art of Rabbi Hirsch DĂ€nemark, remembered in the show via a 19th-century German handbill, beautifully printed in Fraktur typefaces on luxurious mold-made paper, or whether it’s the art of those ancient pornographers who left naughty mosaics at Pompeii — reminds us that the world has always been messy, weird and wonderful.

Sunil, 'Lady and Cranes', Digital photograph

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