Saturday, 30 July 2011

In Which Everything is Illuminated

On looking through the camera I often recollect the moment when I really looked at Monet’s paintings for the first time.

If it must be told, it was a dinner, in some year when I was barely in my twenties. The main attractions of the evening were mutton and beer. Being vegetarian and a borderline teetotaler my mind gladly drifted to other things. As it is the mind needs very little provocation to do so. Framed on the wall next to the entrance to the kitchen was a photocopy of one of Monet's gardens. The painting shall remain unnamed to protect the identity of all those concerned. My eyes fell upon it. Thankfully I was not under the influence.

In that unforgettable instant I had an epiphany and everything was illuminated to me. Objects appear as they are because of how light falls on them. As the nature of light in Delhi, where everything seems to exist behind a thin layer of dust, is miles apart from that of light in the Pacific Northwest, where the clouds reflect as much as they absorb, this fact gets reinforced constantly. More so when taking photographs. So one starts to read light all over again. And, in my case, fall in love with a entirely different color palette. 

However, just because something isn’t illuminated, it does not mean it is not there. As Goethe observed: Where there is much light, the shadow is deep. But more importantly if the eye does not want to see it, neither light nor glasses will help. *  Thus light can take us only this far and no further.

*German proverb

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