Once every long while, you may stumble upon a painting that you unconsciously get absorbed into. You can hardly look away from it. You look at; no, you stare at it for an hour and after every few minutes, something you hadn’t noticed before catches your eye. The more you look at it, the more you see it differently. You study it as if searching for something the artist added unknowingly. At that moment it is more than just paint on canvas, it’s a story.
On this particular one, there is a woman and a baby. You assume it’s mother and child. You cannot tell the sex of the baby. The mother is sited upright, legs apart. She has nothing on but a cloth around her waist. The cloth is not tied around her waist but rather placed as if to protect from prying eyes. The baby on all fours is in between her legs facing the woman. Its naked and no hair on its head. Its hard to tell if it has just been born or trying to crawl back into the ‘mothers’ womb. Probably crawling back on realizing that the world is too full or not as expected. Crawling back into the womb for fear of separation from its ‘mother’.
The woman is slightly facing up and has a protective hand over the baby and the other on her lap. She is probably in prayer; blessing the baby. Or she could be looking up for help. Or she could be looking out into the open thinking of the endless possibilities of what the baby could become.
Her eyes are clear, no tears, no fear and no sorrow. She appears comfortable, calm and relaxed as if she is home. She doesn’t seem bothered by her environment or her nudity. There are two tiny droplets on the left side of her forehead. You can’t tell if its rain or sweat. Her hair is short and even. Its black. She has no ornaments and her skin of chocolate complexion. She looks healthy, round cheeks and small perky breasts. She is probably not the baby’s mother.
She has full lips and her mouth slightly open as if in awe. Her lips seem chapped and dry. From what you can see of her front teeth, she has beautiful teeth, big and white. Slightly behind her is a big dried up tree. Its branches are bare without leaves and somehow resemble a deers horns. She might have sat there expecting shade. Around her is what seems like sprouting grass. The grass seems to be growing back probably after a long dry streak. Amidst the grass are tiny pebbles and rocks probably insignificant to her.
Far behind are green trees with large canopies. The grass below them is greener. Its probably a distant land or dangerous that she prefers not to go to. She might have been weary to get to them and chose to settle for lesser canopies and grass. It might be that she is patient that the grass will grow where she is at. It could also be that she knows not everything is as it seems and chooses the devil she knows. might she be too lazy to walk further.
In the painting, there are no shadows, not of the trees, not of the woman, not of the baby. It is probably because the sun is covered in the clouds. At the far corner of the painting, there is a stream. You can not tell which way it is going but it doesn’t really matter. It’s presence is calming, presence of water, presence of life.
In the painting, there is no path or road. The characters are in untrespassed grounds. But there are stumps of logged trees. Lots of them. The stumps seem to be ‘approaching’ the canopied trees. In between two stumps, close to the characters, there’s a herbivores skull. You know it’s a herbivore because it has it’s horns still intact and elongated jaws. Just like the stumps , the skull sits there as if awaiting a new life or reviewing the previous one.
They are so tiny that you almost miss them. They are so small that you almost ignore them, but you can’t because you keep seeing more and more of them. There are images of people under the canopied trees. You can’t tell their sex neither can you count them, but there are people.
The painting could be just a simple painting of two children playing in a field. It could have not meaning. Or it could be one of life amidst destruction. It could be one portraying optimism, birth, death, health and disease in the same frame. Loneliness in the midst of crowds, thirst though along a river, calm during turbulence, comfort in the unyielding.
PS: Did anyone notice that yours truly guest wrote on bikozulu’s blog?
Soundtrack: Pretender – Foo Fighters.