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Seamus
Berkeley

Beauty in the Ordinary

Figures: Josef


How do you perceive this person? Does he look lifelike, poised as if listening? His hands aren’t detailed, but does this make you think of him as any less of a person? Whereas if Josef’s eyes weren’t finished, he could look a lot less… alive.

Why is it that as humans, we don’t require the rest of Josef’s body to be there in order to connect with this person that has appeared in front of us? Is it his shape? His posture? Or is it that we have access to his gaze, his eyes?

In this figurative painting of Josef, it is this spark of light that allows us access, entreé, to this person’s presence and state of being, to their essence and aliveness. Josef’s eyes are dark in this painting, if not for the tiniest reflection of light that shows up as a…

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mere speck on the pupil. What is it about this speck of light that is so… enlivening? If you can imagine, without this infinitesimal flick of white, Josef may appear zombie-like, dead, muerto, mort. Pure darkness in the eyes signifies the absence of light, the missing key to excitement and vitality. But Josef’s eyes are alive and present, so much so that you may wonder what he’s gazing at over your shoulder.

Are eyes the revered window into the soul? Or a vulnerable access point to connect with another human being? How can a practice of Artful Awareness help us get out of autopilot and drop into awareness or meaningful connection?

Is this a simple, ubiquitous opportunity to pay attention to the light in another’s eyes, guiding us toward an acute noticing and appreciation of the people in our lives? What do you think?

Josef, oil on canvas, 20″ x 16″
Original oil painting by Seamus Berkeley


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