I like art. But rarely do I take the time to listen to it. Either a picture draws me in immediately (and it’s usually the colours that will “get” me) or I will pretty much walk right past it. Only on rare occasions will I stop, make an effort, really listen to what the picture is saying.
The picture above is one of those I would have walked right past. It’s not a style I like. Not enough colour, not immediately beautiful.
But the thing is, before I ever saw this picture, I read about it. I read about the story it tells, the symbolism involved. When I finally looked it up online, I wanted to see, to discover. I was fascinated.
In 1618 the Spanish artist Diego Velazquez depicted the Emmaus meal in a painting called “Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus”. Jesus and the disciples are depicted in the top left corner. But the picture focuses all our attention on the maid. The astonished look on her face as she overhears their conversation suggests she’s realized that a previously deas man has just eaten her food. The meal is hinted at, but it’s all washed and tidied away. The central item is a piece of rag. The new world has collided with the old.
(Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus)
It’s all there. Suddenly I get the picture. I look beyond mere aesthetics at the story. The kitchen maid realising what has happened, how this will change everything. The sheer miracle of it all. It’s all there and now I see it.
All because there was an incentive to look, really look. Maybe I should do that more often.