Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Leaving an Impression
Looking on Facebook at images of Tom Seghi and what he created, a niece wrote
...of two paintbrushes (one big and one small) that look like they have been used to paint numerous canvases. They are hanging together on a blank canvas ready to paint their next masterpiece...
reminds me of you & him and all the things you both created together, Auntie Laya. What a beautiful image...
But seeing the image on a flat screen can be deceptive. In two dimensions it's difficult to perceive that the large brush is painted on canvas, while the small brush is an actual brush. From a distance, they both look painted (or "real"). Both brushes - the painted one and the actual one - have actual wires attached, making them appear suspended. Watching people view the brush paintings and "get" the play on reality has been a source of delight for both Tom and me over the years.
One of Tom's favorite art techniques was "tromp l'oeil," (French, literally 'deceives the eye', an illusion created by extremely realistic imagery that makes the subject of the painting appear 3-D). Using paint on canvas, he loved playing with the idea of what's real. The fruit he painted often evoked the response, "It looks so real I could take a bite out of it."
Now that he's gone, I see yet another layer of meaning in his play with the concept of what's real or not. Just as my niece suggested, Tom and I are indeed like those two brushes, I am here in 3-D, and his impression remains, vivid as can be, but no longer "actual." He is in one dimension and I'm in another.
Mysticism has been an interest of mine for years; I've had a natural affinity for it from early on. A key aspect of mysticism is the awareness of different dimensions of reality. There is a world that we see and there are invisible worlds. In Jewish mysticism (I hesitate to say Kabbalah so as not to confuse it with the ever expanding Kabbalah business that promotes its own published books, red strings for protection and holy water at high prices), the concept of RESHIMU brings to mind what Tom was doing in his painting.
To quote from a website about Jewish mysticism (www.innerorg/worlds/reshimu.html) , the reshimu is compared to the fragrance of the wine which remains in the glass after having been poured out of it. The reshimu is the consciousness of knowing that one has "forgotten." It is the consciousness which arouses one to search for that which he has lost, the awareness that God is "playing" with His creation, as it were, a Divine game of "hide and seek."
Tom is in the invisible world now but he has left a profound impression here in this world - in the memories people hold of him, in his artwork, in his children and grandchildren that carry on the life he engendered in them. For me especially, the question arises about how to traverse the different worlds, how to stay in touch with what I lost. What is real? I ask myself, and I remember the Taoist dream of Chuang Tzu:
"I dreamed I was a butterfly, or was I a butterfly dreaming I was me?"