At first glance there’s a lot information to pay attention to — an expanse of water, boats, a wharf, and the harbor on the far side of the bay. At first glance we probably notice the woman. But the man? At first glance they don’t seem to be aware of each other. Is this a scene in a film in which they could possibly meet, might come together as friends, or lovers? Or do they already know each other and are breaking apart?
The setting of this painting is the harbor of La Coruña on the Atlantic coast in northern Spain. But is the actual location and the characters as important as the context itself: a bright morning in early July?
Another thought: At the time I painted the scene, I wasn’t aware of the following lines from an untitled poem by Pablo Neruda:
The one who only wanted to be loved
at least once, with the ghost of a kiss,
turns cold and aloof, and doesn’t look at the girl
who was waiting for him, open and unhappy.
Now, many years later, it’s difficult not to think of the poem. But now I also find myself wondering about something else: If the woman and man were not present, how different would the painting be? Their presence might be simply incidental. Perhaps — as often happens in life — they are only minor characters in a larger picture. Our lives and loves are vitally important to us, but in a more expansive drama, the sun will rise and its light will sparkle on the surfaces of oceans whether we are here, or there, or not.
Questions, ambiguities. I wonder: is being content with not having answers a form of perfection, just as it should be?