Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Morandi’s still lifes. Well, even more about Morandi I suppose and how he painted those same few bottles, vases, fruit bowls, containers of varying description for decades. He chose his palate early, he found his subject and he adhered to them faithfully. But these still lifes transcend. In this one it is a portrait, in this other a landscape. The every day objects of his small collection anthropomorphize, they grow outside of their function, they stretch the confines of their purpose. Morandi saw something more in these little objects and he found in them a life’s work.
We bought our house a few years ago. Spent the many hours painting the walls, hammering in the pictures, reconfiguring furniture. We took the time to step back and consider it. We locked it all into place. In all our iterations of how the bedroom would be set up never did we picture it with an IV pole. That was to come later.
Willa came home after her first month in the hospital to a fresh delivery from the medical supply company. We had an enteral pump with which to feed her, syringes, bags, tape of mysterious origin and an IV pole. That was the thing that stopped me in my dusty tracks. The IV pole is a serious thing.
For one, it’s large. For another, silver, new and gleaming. I’ve only ever seen these in one of two possible places: hospitals or movies. Which was I in?
It stands sentinel now in our room at the head of Willa’s bassinet. As she feeds overnight from her eight-hour ordeal, and ours by extension, the pole holds her pump and bag aloft. One of the many images of my life that sets a tableau of weirdness. It’s almost a normal scene: baby asleep in bassinet next to mom and dad’s bed, but wait, what’s that?
Everything in this house is just a little slant.
In the middle of the night I see it, the light from the street lamp setting off its curves, casting a bizarre shadow on the wall behind me. It morphs in my exhausted eyes into a beautiful tree, then a curling snake, a high rise for praying mantis, a robot of the future, an elaborate assistive laundry device.
It’s all in how you look at it.
This, all this, is life taking its own shape. There is the introduction of something new, throwing off all the corners, bleeding out the frame, forever twisting sight into a new reality. Even when we can order all our images, stack all the boxes, put in line all our life’s plans and intentions, they may decide themselves, “I am not a still life. I am a landscape. I am a portrait.”
Morandi painted his beautiful paintings in his bedroom. He had a set up to facilitate this, right there at the foot of his bed. In a little room, making little paintings of little things whole worlds were traveled, peoples met. I look at my room now and know that I have only just begun to see things in their new way. My eyes have been forever changed for objects. In this place they mean so much more than their function, their original purpose. Their meaning transcends and in order to see the beauty in all these new things, the beauty that I learn every day is stubbornly there, so must I.