Painting on a mirror, even one that’s clear gessoed, can be frustrating on a humid day. It doesn’t like to be touched. Too many strokes and its glass shines through. This will hang next week in a portrait gallery show. You can look at it and see the real you among humanity. To the modern misanthrope, which I surmise is most everyone over age fifteen, people appear approachable, maybe even friendly, from a distance. However, move close enough to depict their eye color, and become afraid instantly. Immediate fight or flight in expression or deed. Just by not saying “Hello” to a fellow passerby on the sidewalk portrays the inner dread we all possess at the thought of letting our guard down to a stranger. Of course it all depends on location. Very few of us fear the cashier at the super-duper market, or any established institution that sells things to us. Then it’s a matter of justifiable power over another. Fear is lifted, and we temporarily bask in an 11th century Japanese court of politeness and respect.
This painting reminds me of the second to last paragraph in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer:
Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; up close they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space—space even more than time.