When was the last time that you thought you were mortal? That your gut slithered and your neck hairs bristled? That your soul shook and you thought, this will all end for me?
Ours is a fast cluttered world. To age is a thing we must refute, alter, airbrush away. We must remain fit, of optimum weight, our incomes secured and no baggy knees please! Day after day we are shown the gilded youth of our societies frolicking about - whilst the middle-aged struggle to look good without getting caught out. When tragedies strike - and they are investigated with glee - we tsk-tsk and move on, our hearts stilled by the relief that we and our beloveds are unscathed.
It can feel very soulless. Especially as religion or faith are almost taboo topics. Too much fanaticism involved, and century-old ideas that continue to clash. Where is the balm for all of us?
The paintings are rich, startlingly varied, worth gazillions. They range from exquisite Mantegna and Bellini from the 1400s, to Francis Bacon's writhing nudes on sexy blazing orange; from Durer's portrait of a young man (a punk from 1510!) to Picasso's saucy Italian signora. From El Greco's jarring San Girolamo (looks like my old boyfriend!) to Monet's whispering scenes from a sunny riverbank.
It is beautiful, creativity. It is life. And some of the most touching works were those of Pierre Bonnard and Paul Cezanne, who after lengthy creative lives now depicted their aged faces approaching death. With serenity, without fuss.
That was where my tiny, warm soul shifted. That was where I saw the balm to which I can connect. A creative life. An exploration of light, of colour, of composition. Sometimes it can appear as simple as this.