The Presence of What is Absent

We’re told by ancient Greek stories that Aphrodite, the Goddess of sexual love, emerged from the depths of the sea in all her radiant beauty to help us blind humans see the radiant beauty in all the world, (and not incidentally, in each one of us.) The story goes even deeper, which you can discover for yourself when you swim in the ocean or more simply, by allowing yourself to taste the sea when you eat an oyster in its shell. With the brine in your mouth and your eyes closed, it takes no imagination whatever to realize that the sea is our mother, and the mother of everything else, as well.

To me, what’s most interesting about this watercolor, which I drew on Formentera, is what is not present, that is, Aphrodite herself. To be sure, she was a constant, invisible presence as I was drawing, but not in the water, like the vision of Botticelli, but rather surrounding me, like an envelope of light. When I return to California, I’ll invoke her presence directly in another painting, but meanwhile, this is an image of an inlet on a little island off the coast of Spain, where she is about to appear. Trust your imagination. She’s there in the waves. We just can’t see her, yet.

 

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