The Scent of Lilies


liliesThe evening is cold, a bit too cold for this time of year. I’m walking down the deserted street – I don’t think I’ve ever been to this part of the City before. It seems a little strange that I only see a few people on the block – I’ve just travelled from the really packed Midtown. I’m looking at the sign – E 86th, that’s it, I gotta make a right here.

neue-galerie-new-yorkOk, I see it, the place of my destination. Looks so… polished, European I guess. A bit old-fashioned, yet it shines like a freshly minted coin. I walk in. Oh, just what I expected – a glittering marble floor. I start walking towards the reception and all of a sudden I see them – a bunch of huge-headed, off-white lilies, sitting in a clear, simplistic vase.  Their heads are so huge that they are slightly drooping down, and the color is so magnificent that I don’t even know if it’s gold or ivory, or the two mixed together. In a second, I realize that the scent of the lilies fills the whole place, every corner of it – since it’s relatively small. It has been a sunny day and the odor must have diffused easily. I get so mesmerized by the sight that I keep on staring at the lilies, while the weary lady at the reception continues to write something. She finally raises her head. “Hello”, – she says. “Hi”, – say I, “I would like…”

The next moment, the intense blue eyes of Vincent Van Gogh stare at me from the portrait. What colors! If taken separately, none of them make sense, but together they stand in such perfect harmony that they seem to reflect some unspoken rule of the Universe. Wait! I think I’ve just discovered the secret behind Van Gogh’s colors. About a week ago, I’ve been to another Van Gogh exhibition. And I know that most of the time, before he painted anything, he used to make black-and-white sketches of things. And after that, he probably just did not remember what colors things were. Well, not a nice thing to say about a world-renowned artist… But I don’t think Van Gogh was concerned about his colors not being realistic, he just wanted them to agree in a picture.

klimt Bildnis Adele Bloch-Bauer I 1907  New York, Neue GalerieOh, wow, I can’t believe I’m seeing this. I have seen this woman’s portrait so many times before, the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt. I’ve seen it in movies, in pamphlets, but I have never seen the original. I’m dumbfounded right now. She seems a solid rock of gold, crowned with a bright speck of a red mouth and a mop of black hair. Her dress is not actually all painted – its bottom is made of little shiny circles and squares of… gold? I’m just standing there and am not able to take my eyes off.

This whole time while I’m walking around the place, the scent of lilies accompanies me wherever I go. I finally decide to leave, unwillingly. I put on my coat and step into the night. They say aromas make people remember things, like, they make memories sink in. Hmm, could be… Should text Avi about the colors…

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1 Comment

  1. padraeg

    WELL, this was an enjoyable read. I’m thrilled at your awe of the Klimt painting, which seems to have inspired me to find that original. It is stunning; as you may recall, I’ve never been impressed with paintings so modern, but this may change.

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