Everything is so complicated and convoluted in this world, so I am in awe when writers and artists create exceptional simplicity. I am looking at a photo of van Gogh's “Paul Gauguin (Man in a Red Beret)” and am mesmerized by its swirls, shades, and lines.
"Did he paint this with his finger?" I wonder. It feels wrong to describe this work as "basic" upon first glance. It is not one of his intricate self portraits, but it is certainly not basic. To me, there is an exceptional simplicity to it. It almost appears flawed, which I can understand. To me, this work seems like a true depiction of his ability and preference. It is not perfect because humans are imperfect and his painting of this close friend exemplifies that and the spirit of Gauguin he chose to paint. It looks simple, but contains so much.
I am even more stimulated when writing holds this ability. To use few words, yet impart wisdom, secrets, and emotion-- this is wildly powerful to me.
When I read that I thought, "what a perfect way to measure writing!" At least non fiction. Maria Popova was speaking of writer H.G. Wells, who considered himself a journalist. If only all "journalists" used such measurement. I see it as someone who journals life, as it is, writing free of bias. They are like a recording of the event, only using words. A bit more wordier, Popova also wrote,
It's like, what a visual definition of art and its process. It seems to capture the core meaning.
wrote William Blake. That sentence displays the variety of life, emotion, and our kind.
This loaded simplicity has struck me with some of Picasso's cubiest paintings as well. The familiarity of the geometric shapes returns me to grade school, thereby associating some works with an "elementary" notion. They are anything but, but he has reduced complicated, fluid forms into impossible shapes. Childlike, and so imaginative.
These masters have spread out, inspected, replicated, internalized, and played with their art. They have worked with an assortment of mediums and tools, on multiple canvases, under various constraints and environments. They have played and discovered more than most of us, which is how they can create magic using a reduction of words, paints, line, and form. It is mostly dedicated work, but transcends what is often seen of or thought of as real. After evaluating or knowing all other possible words or paints, they can give us these precise, exceptional pieces. So perfect for their imperfections, so concise and truthful.