This painting by Watteau was part of a lecture that Stan Lewis gave at WCSU last week. We all had a great time talking about it and I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how the things that happen in painting hook up with two books I have been reading, “The Field” by Lynne McTaggart and “Being Wrong” by Kathryn Schulz. I realize its a stretch but late night ideas are often kind of wacky. To grossly simplify, McTaggarts book is about the “outer edges” of science and some of the ideas that are being explored as we try to make sense of the world..which is what science tries to do. The field is one idea that assumes that everything is connected in a world of sub atomic particles and energies, it tries to explain for example why two parts of a particle will react as one – even continents apart. I find that idea interesting because if we are designed to interface with the world via connections then, looking at a painting is very much like being in the world – kind of a perceptual metaphor. When we look at a great painting the connections between elements of the painting draw us into the energies of the painting. I tend to think of these energies as either/or place-type tensions but it’s just a meaningful to think about images/metaphors; or soft/hard, or space vs 2D. I’m sure there are more.
Being Wrong is about the way we think and how truly subjective even the most rigorous disciplines are, how we live in a world so complicated that we often need to rely on inductive thinking and the prepackaged assumptions we grew up with. This is how we are and yet we are so self-critical about being wrong. I haven’t finished the book but I think she will suggest that we acknowledge our wrongness and learn to incorporate it into our lives. I do think about this a lot. As painters we tend to be very very diverse, it’s rare to find another painter who sees things exactly the way I do and yet – we are also crazily opinionated about art and other artists. What I like about Stanley Lewis’ approach is that it goes to looking, just looking at the strangeness of that Watteau. Discussion brought out diverse opinions and more importantly the connections between each persons point of view, we are all part of the is-ness of the picture, it was all in there!