In a past decade, wearing a different body than the one he awoke to this morning, he found himself standing face to face with a eighty-five year old canvas; Ice Floe on the Seine, painted in 1893 near the artists’ home in Giverny. The precision of the image surpassed mere representation. It somehow managed to silence all sound in the crowded gallery. The murmur and shuffle, the shoulder to shoulder intrusions, the consumption that rendered everything as little more than a blur of memory. All of it, obliterated by the unnatural gravity of brush and paint.
He stood transfixed as the world flowed around him as if he were the island in the painting. The canvas was one of inconceivable subtlety and yet unimaginable detail. The snow, ice and river reflected the blue of an early morning sky that barely reached the ground through a dense layer of fog. A palette of such ambiguity that it challenged description. As if the world had exhaled into a pallid winter sky. A whisper. A secret.
It was then, or later than then that he fixed his mind on an Ultramarine blue that Van Gogh had used as a shadow in a landscape. It appeared nearly black, like a night sky. So radically different that one could scarcely see the two as the same color. In typical fashion for Van Gogh it was troweled onto the canvas as thick as plaster.
For the next hour he thought only of blue. The cobalt skies of Cezanne, the veiled and somber aquamarine of Picasso’s early works. The pastel turquoise silks of Dega’s dancers. Focus was an easy trick. Say a word or hold a thought and that is all the mind will see for weeks to come. Today it was blue from first light to last. What a luxury this life is.