Like that of a mountain, to make art. Especially classical styles, which I spent some time reflecting on at the Morgan Library today. Art requires painstaking, attentive gestures. Focused light. More specifically, a mind full of moonlight.

Shahzia Sikander’s paintings and collage-style artwork in this exhibit, “Extraordinary Realities,” showcase her classical techniques and many layers of contemporary ones. Her Pakistani heritage and time spent in Rhode Island and Texas add layers too. The works re-centers tradition to expose feminine experience and power, and issues of identity, belonging and religious understanding are centering themes.

What does the eye read in art that is so full of color, form and juxtaposition? It is not so different from poetry. Maybe poetry lives deeper in the element of time than a painting does. The flow of eye over a visual artwork and the flow of ear or mind over a poem differ in the particulars of experience, not necessarily in the amount of time. But time dictates the poem, and so keeps it veiled.

That explains the feeling of exposure in watercolor painting for me. The expression is unmediated by time. Maybe I could get used to the freedom of that. I’m willing to give it time.

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