Several artworks declared soothing for our troubled times

It is the story of the interpretation of a painting or image. ArtNet starts with 14 works described as soothing. The list has been compiled with good intentions: To help you relax despite all the things that are worrying you right now. The pandemic is still a concern.

Alarm art

But here’s the problem. None of the 14 professions contribute to my relaxation. It’s just the opposite. They provoke reactions ranging from tension to wing stroke. It is reminiscent of the words of the American essayist Susan Sontag: Interpretation is the revenge of an intellectual for art.

Interpretation is not a fact

I want to show how an artistic interpretation cannot be explained as a factual interpretation.

Personal reactions don’t just come into the game, they make up the whole game. Let others understand what it means to have a work of art that you leave out of the game.

Of course, that means my job doesn’t have to be yours.

Searching for peace

The seated Buddha Amitabha, a wooden statue, painted and gilded, represents the ancient philosopher in meditation. You expect the contemplative state to stop, don’t you? Instead, it seems stiff, stiff, uncomfortable in the lotus position.

Diving in

Even the nameless painting by Via Chelmins, which depicts the open sea, is not reassuring. What you see is a large and turbulent ocean – my sworn enemy, for he almost drowned. Swimming in rough water taught me something I didn’t know.

You can’t raise your hand to ask for help, because you both have to fight the turbulence. The rescuers at the other bank couldn’t have known I was in trouble. That’s why Untitled isn’t so difficult.

Twisted net

Brice Mardens The Attended, a linear abstraction of confused, colourful lines, is not a picture to relax, despite Mardens’s often quoted words for those who scratch their heads when looking at his work.

Just relax and let go. Where’s Bryce going? Of course, not the confusing configuration you’re suggesting.

Love story

Jennifer Guidi’s energy of love can seduce you with his millions of little bricks that look like shapes coming together like water in a gutter.

Stormy weather

The view of Thomas Cole from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after the storm is another image that can be irritating because of the bad effects on the storm: a torn, faceless tree that seems to be standing loose from the ground.

In room

I could have gone on, but you had the idea. Instead, I want to present a work of art that I find reassuring, despite the fact that the artist is known as a madman: Van Gogh’s room. The room is part of the house he rented in Arles, where he hoped to accommodate not only himself but also his fellow artists, who needed a place to live and work. Known as the Yellow House, he was happy and reliable.

Out of the Shadow

Because the Yellow House made him so happy and hopeful that Van Gogh designed the room and wrote to his brother. He told her that he wanted the image to calm the minds of everyone who saw it, so he made all the shadows disappear. Thanks, Vincent. Your painting does what you want: it makes your thinking easier.

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