I hear the thwang of Cupid’s arrow near and offer up my favorite painting of love as a target for today’s discussion– Thomas Hart Benton’s Romance, on display at the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas.
I’m immediately drawn to the intense turquoise blue of the sky, embraced by the tree branch and her vibrant poppy red dress. The statuesque couple contrasts with the dream-like landscape surrounding them. They walk, hand in hand, eyes closed. The the moonlight casts its spell; wafting clouds swirl to the ground.
I’m again caught up in the depth of the jewel-like colors intensifying this dreamy, atmospheric feeling (almost Surrealist with echos of El Greco). His shoes are off, hers are on. Is this a new romance? Are they courting, walking though a neighbor’s backyard, blind to each other’s faults (love is blind)? Each experience intensified yet dreamlike in the thrall of eros. Their feet don’t seem to be firmly planted on the ground.
Or is this an old love, deep and unscarred by time and circumstance. What they have is beyond sight, a heartfelt soulfulness. At peace with each other. Such that they know each other’s thoughts. The hard work of running their farm, a silent testament behind them. Do they walk side by side, even in their dreams?
The mystery here is the mystery of love. What drives it. What sustains it. How we get it; how we keep it. It’s a million immutable questions that must be answered one at a time. With our eyes closed.