seeing differently

December 3, 2011

I wonder what comes to your mind first as you are looking at this picture ? A bunch of petals ? Allium sativum’s skin ? A   broken heart ? Or something else ?

How would you feel if suddenly your world would look in yellow or red or blue or whatever colour you cannot imagine right now ? Would it change anything for you ?

This is not a recent picture. Since the time I took this portrait of a lady deeply concentrated on her work, I could not figure out what exactly she was doing. I am always shy to take pictures of people in the street. The scene was so special, the mood in her workshop too, I just had “to click” from the street. From the various phials, pens and tools I had a quick glimpse at, I imagine she was doing some sort of calligraphy. What would you say she was making ? What do you see ?

Last Summer I visited a gallery in my hometown. There were two artists who presented their artworks. A lady (Mathilda Raboud) who had created some funny, cheeky and unusual ceramic angels and an Italian artist from Florence, Rosario Memoli. He had  worked with all sorts of textiles that he either sewed or stuck on a white canvas. It was  abstract art, a kind of reflection on the way space is organised between immobility and movement.

I know it is abstract art… but I could not help seeing it differently. Or rather finding a meaning to his particular creations.  Laugh if you want but it is what I seem to see in the  above picture : a proud rooster is chasing away a black and white sheep while his favourite polka dot hen is quietly nibbling at a flower 🙂

Same sort of tragedy with this other artwork by Memoli… I see a sort of hen (yes, again) and a strange mythological creature with a dangerous looking dented tail. They seem to be arguing. Could the reason be the many colourful seeds in the upper right corner that both are coveting ?  See the way my imagination takes over sometimes ?;)

For a long time artists have  shown us how to see and think differently. They taught us that there are as many ways as there are people since we all see everything differently. A liberating gift, isnt’ it ?

Rosario Memoli’s artworks bore no title. Maybe the artist intended to free our imagination ?  The writer Eugène Ionesco wrote in his book “Découvertes” :

An artwork is a series of interrogations. Since there is a construction, one can consider a work as an architecture of interrogations. Every artwork must be brought into question”.

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29 Responses to “seeing differently”

  1. Kathy said

    We all interpret the world so differently–everyone tells different stories of what they perceive based on their perception, memory, outlook, beliefs. Perhaps that is why the world has so many stories. This is a very thoughtful blog, Isa. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Gerry said

      What I think is . . . onion skins of different colors would be fine materials for collages . . . everything looks more mysterious seen through a glass darkly . . . that woman is editing her masterpiece, Illuminated Manuscripts from the Basque Region–or perhaps she’s a skilled counterfeiter . . . I’m pretty sure the sheep is a black and white pig wearing lipstick . . . and I see two hens and a turtle in the last abstract. That was fun. Now I must go rummage around for onion skins.

      • Love your comments, Gerry. As I peeled a piece of garlic recently, its skin fell on a dish, quite naturally, like the petals of a flower. This woman, a skilled counterfeiter ? why not but she looks too honest for this, although…you may wonder sometimes 😉 Two hens and a turtle ? Yes ! well seen Gerry. When will you write a tale about it ? Thanks a lot for your comments, good that you enjoyed it.

    • How right you are, Kathy. The world is full of stories perceived differently by people. Our own perception and ego can create misunderstandings as well as give us another outlook on the same topic, event or person. As for these photos, I find it so interesting to read all your comments and see how your imagination works and sees the same subject. Thank you for your words, thoughtful too.

  2. Scott B. said

    First, I thought it was a really neat photograph saying…whaaaa? What is this? My browser loaded the page with just the top half of the photo and I thought that it might be some type of parchment. But nah. When I scrolled down, I realized it was the skin of a white onion. 🙂

    • Hi Scott B., a parchment is a good guess when seen through your browser, I would not have thought of it. It was garlic in fact, the onion skin is of a different shade, darker. Thanks for your suggestions.

  3. Giiid said

    Garlic? A very nice photo Isa, very artistic. The collection of photos and your view on them are telling about the curiosity that keeps a creative mind alive. It is a fun challenge to look for a motive in a abstract picture. I read your text first, after that I saw exactly the same as you.

    I think the woman in the window is writting or painting as you say, and Isa, you make me smile! You don´t like to take pictures of people at the street, – but you take a photo of a person through a window…ha ha, what if she had raised her head and seen you? ( Perhaps just felt like a celebrity) 🙂

    • Hello and thank you Birgitte, surely we can find lots of motives or patterns in an abstract picture. I do find them in your mosaics when you play with light and shade or in those great macros of yours. I also smiled at your remark about me taking a photo through a window 🙂 I took a chance, I was almost sure she would not lift her head since she looked so concentrated but she did. In standing in front of her window shop I blocked some light she badly needed. It was a grey and rainy day. Our eyes met very briefly, I smiled and was gone in the next second (courageous me).

  4. truels said

    Isa, you spoiled my plans for this evening! – Because I had to sit and look so much on this post, it’s great how you can use your imagination and put thoughts into swing with your pictures and words! The top photo is shells from a garlic… The next photo makes me think of a great experience recently: I visited Aarhus Museum of Art (AROS) and Olafur Eliasson’s large installation “Rainbow Panorama” – I will soon show photos from my visit on my blog, but have a look here for a start:
    http://www.realdania.dk/Projekter/Byen/Aros-Himmelrummet/Billeder.aspx
    I think the woman is creating a piece of art – maybe a quilt (!) – or maybe something as nice and beautiful as those two last artworks you show us. They are SO NICE and beautiful, I love them!

    • Oh truels, so sorry I spoiled your plans… but I am happy you posted this link about the AROS. The Rainbow Panorama looks like a colourful ring from Saturn that would have landed softly on this building. I look forward to seeing more. The lady artist was not creating a quilt…I would have opened the door of her shop and started talking with her 🙂 No, it was something mysterious that kept me outside, I don’t know why. In any case I thank you very much for having spent so much time on this post. You were right about the garlic.

  5. Hello Isa. Well, I guess I will have to submit myself as guilty to the critic’s eye as I think exactly the way you thought about the two pictures. I guess its the seeds. Im sure its the seeds.

    I love this about art. It’s completely relative. It’s beyond a set rule and theorem. No wonder it did not have a title. Freedom of thoughts it is.

    What a beautiful post.

    • Hi Rukmini. Very nice to read your words and your funny remark about the seeds 🙂 Yes, it must be the seeds that lead us to imagine this story about the second pictures. Art really has this unique way of liberating your own perception and imagination, hasn’t it ? You expressed it very well : freedom of thoughts. Thanks.

  6. Tammy said

    Isa, thank you for reminding us that perspective depends on so much and that no two are ever the same. I love the picture of the woman working – I know I would love her creation also.

    • Thank you Tammy, you are so right too about everyone’s perspective being unique and depending on many factors. As I already wrote, I do not know what this woman was creating but the look of her workshop and the tools I could see made me think of something precise and ancient. Maybe some day I will know…

  7. iniyaal said

    This is an interesting post… The first picture seems to be of garlic peels.. but I also see pure light love filled thoughts fill up harsh black thoughts in someone’s mind 🙂 It does seem nice to see green, blue or red images.. but I would love my world to be filled with all colors… And the last abstract art looks like a fair to me.. a country fair with freeis wheels.
    I enjoyed this post.. It was interesting to observe the differences in perspectives.

  8. Iniyaal, I really enjoyed reading your interpretation of these pictures. So interesting to see through everyone’s eyes. Yes, garlic peels, but much more than that when I look at them through your own perception. Very beautiful image. Thank you. Like you I prefer my world to be filled with colours but were it different, I guess I would just have to adjust !

  9. Those top three pictures are great. As to the first, I see petals made of some kind of parchment…

    • Thank you JP, I appreciate your comments on those three pictures, I particularly like the first one (garlic peels) and hope I will find more inspiration for such photography next year. Happy Holiday Season, Journey Photographic, wherever you are.

  10. Marie said

    Hi Isabelle,

    What wonderful thought provoking photos. I agree about the abstract art. My immediate reaction without reading your words that there was indeed a chicken/rooster in the picture.
    The photo of the woman makes me think she is some sort of artist concentrating on her work. The onion makes me think of “Life”, so many layers to it.
    Lastly thank you, merci` for the lovely gifts. So special and dear to my heart! ❤
    Will write soon…

    • Hi dear Marie, I love your way of seeing these garlic peels as “Life” and its many layers. How true when you think of it. We have to adjust to each layer, no matter what it brings and look for the positive. Keeping Hope in our heart. So happy you enjoyed the gifts 🙂

  11. shoreacres said

    What fun! And what an assortment of images.

    The last two abstracts are truly Rorschach-like. Yes, I see the hen and sheep in the first, at least partly because I had a stuffed sheep as a child with a similar black-and-white coat. But the polka dots looked like a pond to me.

    The second is two creatures, but it looks to me as though the larger one on the left has gotten a splinter in his three-toed foot, and his companion is about to remove it for him!

    The first photo I saw as delicate seashells. The second reminded me of a home I stayed in as a child when my parents went out of town. The woman who kept me was an antique dealer. Her front room had a bay window filled with beautiful colored glass. In the morning the sunlight poured through, making the glass seem alive.

    As for the woman – I haven’t a clue what she’s doing, but the light and the intensity of her focus reminded me of a Vermeer.

    Such a lovely, evocative post, Isa. Thank you!

    • Linda, what interesting comments and great imagination ! How very much like you to see a positive scene between those two creatures instead of an argument as I thought it could be. I like your own interpretation. Seashells are another lovely image for the first picture, like the parchment some friends saw in it. I know exactly what you mean about these coloured glass windows. They are beautiful and rather rare these days. Looking through them is really like seeing another world outside. And last but not least, Vermeer…how didn’t I think of him ? one of my favourite painters, a magician of light and shadows. Maybe this is what attracted me in this window ? Thank you so much for bringing more insight in those various pictures.

  12. sonali said

    Isa, a very nice post you have displayed here which conveys a good message – think differently! Yes, we all have different views and opinions about things that we see. I think the lady by the window is busy with glass painting? I don’t know. The pictures are fabulous. I like the abstract art forms. Kept me thinking..

    Have a good day, Isa! 🙂

    • It is good to read your words, Sonali. Thank you.Thinking and seeing differently should not be a reason to separate people but a way of learning more from one another and try understanding others’ opinions and perspectives. Don’t you think so ? Have a good day too and thank you for your comments.

  13. Thank you Kathy, Birgitte, Kevin, truels and Robin for “liking” this post. I am surprised and delighted by all the responses and various interpretations of these pictures. It says a lot about our own views of the world around us. No wonder there can be sometimes misunderstandings and various stories of the same event. Art can be a wonderful way to open one’s mind…peacefully. I thank each of you warmly for visiting and taking the time to seeing differently.

  14. sartenada said

    Salut Isa.

    I guessed it to be onion. I did not think about garlic, not at all. Our language differs from many languages and to me in Finnish, onion is a general name. For example Garlic is “white onion”, when translated from Finnish word by word. 🙂 Anyway I was wrong.

    I love those three first photos very much and especially the “working woman in window”.

    • Bonsoir Matti, you were right… in your Finnish way, garlic is white onion for you ! The working woman in the window seems to attract and puzzle many visitors… me included. Merci de ta visite, toujours appréciée.

  15. Carsten said

    Just another series of wonderful images Isabelle. -I wonder why my first comment isn’t here. Suppose I’ve forgotten to press the ‘Post Comment’ button. Isn’t is difficult to repeat yourself in such a case? At least it is for me. And now many of my thoughts on Garlic and the woman behind the window have ben expressed much better by my fellow bloggers.
    Still I’m facinated by the colored mirror. Or is it a window? In my mind it could be both. It brings me back to my childhood and the days in the local public swimming bath. Once I had one of these swimming masks with yellow glass. When wearing it, the world turned sunny at the moment it came on. Even the grayest cold day looked wonderfully bright. Certainly it had influence on my mood.
    Thanks for taking me back 🙂

    • Good evening Carsten. Your first message – thanks a lot – is probably lost in some unknown virtual depths… what is much nicer is that you came back with your memories and thoughts. The “coloured mirror” is an old stained glass window built in the exterior wall of a fortress in Schaffhausen, near the German border. Funny that it should remind you of a swimming mask you were wearing in a public bath, i love those “associations of ideas”. Seeing in yellow surely must make one feeling better 🙂

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