Short story 12

“I don’t like European art. It doesn’t dance,” said Kin “I like bright patterns; colourful masks, and bright flags that blow in the wind, pictures and objects that cheer you up.”

“That is just the superficial aspect of life. The best art has to rumble in its depths. It has to draw you into it, and show you your humanity.” George knew that Kin came from a different culture but he wanted to show her the depth of what Europeans had developed from their experiences over the centuries.

“Let’s go to a gallery and you’ll see,” he suggested.

As they were on a short holiday in Holland they went to the Reichs Museum in Amsterdam. George had always thought that any art should be a balance between intellect and emotion. In painting the emotion is both the subject matter and in the application of the paint. And the intellect again should be in the subject matter but also in the aesthetics and the mathematics on the canvas.

They ended up in front of The Night Watch. Emotionally Rembrandt was restrained by the fact that it was a commission from a society and he could only express feeling by portraits of the individual characters. Technically however George could show Kin the mathematical balance that underpinned the composition whilst keeping all the members happy. He pointed out how the mass composition balanced. He showed how the line composition took your eye from the primary centre of interest at the intersection of lines of the golden mean around the picture, and then out again on another circuit through secondary centres of interest in the subsidiary blocks, which again conformed to the golden mean. The whole painting was mathematically resolved and satisfying.

“And that is nothing to say of the colour harmony.” concluded George.

“But it’s so dull.”

“That has nothing to do with it.”

“But it does. Art should make life brighter.”

“Life is not bright. It is horrible for most people.”

“All the more reason to make art uplifting.”

At that point George gave up. They made their way out of the gallery to get a cup of coffee. On the way they passed through the silver gallery.

Kin pulled George’s arm and pointed to a small silver jug.

“Now there is great art. I can see myself pouring cram from that. It makes me feel great. It makes life worth living.”


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Thank you, Keith Beal