I stopped. I knew what I was looking at. But you wouldn’t understand how my eyes locked and held. 35 inches pupil to pupil. It seemed a respectable distance. Yet I stood for far too long to stay a spectator.
I think we both knew that.
23 inches now. Barely brushing the rope barrier. Blocking others. It was a small room anyway. They could look from the side.
I have absolutely no idea how long I stood, longer than I’ve ever stood in front of a painting, immobile, alive, fiercely selfish. Strange.
As another person stepped up and looked at him, perhaps 45 seconds, then stepped away, I am not joking, it seemed the master of light smiled. A self deprecating smirk to himself that I witnessed. As if to say, “See?”
Obscurity. The light on his cheek and nose. A setting sun. Eyes in half shadow. What was it?–an entire world in them? But the casual observer would not peer beyond the easily illuminated horizon. A horizon he carefully guided in oils, burnt umber and lead white.
There is pain. Resignation. The set of his mouth matches the resigned… …..sadness. And yes, acceptance, in his recessed gaze.
I didn’t know I’d come to see you. Where is your home, Monsieur Van Rijn?
“In the brush and the light, caught, in this moment, mademoiselle.”
He offers no apology for the sparseness of himself. Rather he has made a peace with obscurité. He moves easily between the foreground and the darkness of distance and depth. What can never be seen. Never be painted.
…The furrow of concentration, of consternation between your brows.
“Don’t study my face. It’s not important.”
“Yes. All you ask about is in my eyes. And they alone hold the soul of this body, this canvas, this striving against fortune herself… for what? To hang on the auspicious wall of the Uffizi for casual observers and name-chasing sycophants?”
“It’s of no consequence.”
And I catch the slightest smile, this time warm in its resignation. Its consequence.