Part of the permanent collection at the Art Institute of Chicago
When I find myself at a crossroads of sorts, whether its emotionally, intellectually, financially, or creatively – one of the most stunning and captivating paintings I’ve ever experienced, Dopo la Fine, by Italian painter Margherita Manzelli rises to the surface in my memory, unexpectedly flashing behind my eyes in situations where it seemingly has no place. But in actuality, it righteously captures the delicious and anxious emotions of indecision: a solitary woman rendered immobile though surrounded by a beautiful and luxurious floral field laid out before her with an infinite expanse just beyond her shoulder.
This beautiful, dwarfed figure with invisible arms and folded legs is knowingly aware I am present, with her curious, mischievous, and haunting gaze. I cannot escape her ravishing stare and am left with no choice but to place myself in the identical metaphorical position – on my side, muted, and engaged in no other activity than glaring back into her painfully penetrating eyes. It is a knowing confrontation with the other and with myself. It is a beautiful study in the either / or, and perhaps the neither / nor. There are always choices, there are always obstacles, but most importantly, there are always different ways of seeing if I only have the courage to look.
Until next time….“We grow rusty and you catch us at the very point of decadence – by this time tomorrow we might have forgotten everything we ever knew.” Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, act 1; quoted by Dave Hickey in Dragon Days: Introduction to the New Edition from The Invisible Dragon: Essays on Beauty.