Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Guided Dreams

Graciela Boulanger is a Bolivian painter. When I first saw her work in an art gallery, I wondered where I'd seen it before. It had a kind of odd familiarity about it, with its stylized renderings of chubby children staring out of the paintings, walking multiple dogs, riding bikes--no, wait, are those unicycles?--and keeping company with cats.

Image source: http://thaiwais.org

Then I realized where I'd seen her work before--on the 1979 UNICEF poster for the International Year of the Child. Why that image stamped itself on my mind and stayed there for so long I will never know. But there it was, and when I saw other paintings from her hand, it felt as if I'd come home in a way, as if I were meeting up with an old friend once again.

Stories can be like that sometimes. They take root in the mind and you don't even know it. Then the patterns begin to form but only after the passage of time can you possibly catch glimpses of what they mean. If you try too hard the image blurs and the whole thing can disintegrate.

I have a card on my desk sent by a friend. It carries a quote from Jorge Luis Borges: "Writing is nothing more than a guided dream." My own dreams mostly feel chaotic and unguided, on the unusual occasions when I can even remember them. But sometimes an image, a sound, a smell, can generate an entire narrative. It's just how the brain works, making connections a person may have overlooked or forgotten, or suppressed.

The Brennen Gallery in Santa Fe is announcing a Boulanger show in  August. I plan to go and spend time dreaming in the company of those images. 

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