A Painting…

number-1

My initial reaction to the painting:

The painter must be either very troubled and confused or has reached a level of inner peace and enlightenment that is unmatched by many. I will assume it is the later case, since this has the quality of a masterpiece that I often see in art museums. The painting reminds me of treasures under the ocean or warfare. It expresses freedom and elegance with its seemingly messy strokes. If viewing this huge painting in person, I would certainly feel dwarfed and mesmerized by it. I think that it is famous as it is because it reflects the society’s structure at the painter’s time. According to Shakespeare, there is a method in this madness.

Poem:

Number 1 by Jackson Pollock (1948)

by Nancy Sullivan

No name but a number.

Trickles and valleys of paint
Devise this maze
Into a game of Monopoly
Without any bank. Into
A linoleum on the floor
In a dream. Into
Murals inside of the mind.
No similes here. Nothing
But paint. Such purity
Taxes the poem that speaks
Still of something in a place
Or at a time.
How to realize his question
Let alone his answer?

 

The word “purity” really strikes me because in a way this painting is beautifully pure despite the arbitrary image it presents. It expresses truthfully the painter’s emotions like music, without being tainted by the dust and lust of the world.  Sullivan is mesmerized by this work of art and she thinks that the painting seems so deep yet so pure and simple in the sense that it does not convey one specific thing. The poet uses parallel structures starting with “into” to create a feeling of walking or falling deeper and deeper into a maze. Sullivan thinks that compared to a poem, the painting is timeless and otherworldly. The imagery such as “trickles and valleys of paint” and “a linoleum on the floor in a dream” further illustrates the freedom and deep thoughts hidden inside the painting, under the currents of the streams of paint. The final question in the end asked by Sullivan is also shared by many, as each person can have a different interpretation of this masterpiece.

 

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