TAFEL

To see the drop

Art     literature     painting     print

It might be total nonsense, writing about water and rain while showing Mad Meg by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a woman surrounded by fire and flames. This is an attempt to explain the sense it makes.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Mad Meg, 1561, oil paint on wood

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Mad Meg, 1561, oil paint on wood

It’s raining hard. The sky is grey, makes the country sad, sad nation.
To feel the heavy drops falling hard and to get wet.
Somehow this drencher evokes an apocalyptic setting.
To run away from the Flood, all together. All sad.

“The city was in a state of emergency because of the violent rains. In some houses, half-naked men and women were trying to salvage whatever God willed from the flood, and Florentino Ariza had the impression that everyone’s calamity had something to do with his own.
But the wind was calm and the stars of the Caribbean were quiet in their places.”
(Gabriel García Márquez – Love in the Time of Cholera)

Marquez describes a tropical storm taking place in Florentino’s village. The protagonist is deeply in love with Fermina Daza and can only link the rainfall to the state of his own life, being rejected after 50 years of longing. However, in the following sentence he questions himself and finds a contradiction in his thoughts and the peaceful atmosphere.

There’s an image of water running over a bucket on a tarmac road. A drop, a drop, a drop… The drop has neither inside nor outside. It has become a flood.

To see the flood. To see the drop that causes the Flood. It is voluminous and infinite. To feel the water splashing and to feel overwhelmed. When is all water poured?
To have the drop that overflows the image.

“I don’t know how to tell you, madam. You will certainly think it’s stupid, but I often have the feeling that there’s something bigger inside of me.”
“Something bigger than yourself?”
“It sounds so stupid. Something that hides inside my body but doesn’t fit at all.”
(Antonio Skàrmeta – The Poet’s Wedding)

Ik weet niet hoe ik het zeggen moet, 2016 © Maud Gyssels

By feeling the weight of the water on the body, everything falls together into something bigger. To all have a place. To see a moment of unity.

Sometimes too big for the world. Mad Meg is too big for the world. The giant woman is raging and robbing. She carries what’s carrying her. Mad Meg and the drop are alike. What surrounds the witch – the creatures, the flames, the chaos – is what she embodies.

The flood outside becomes the fire inside becomes the flood inside becomes the fire outside.

It’s all dialectics: to be washed away and to overpower fire. To describe a truth is to use contradictions. To find an antithesis to every thesis. The world unfolds itself by contraries.

Meanwhile all stars are quiet in their place.

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