I had to chuckle when I came across this quote. It had the timing as though it had been written by a modern comedy writer. Then I noticed it was from Laurence Sterne who is best known for his comic novel Tristram Shandy from mid-1700’s Britiain. I wasn’t surprised at the humor then nor the truth behind it.
The idea of the keyhole being a glimpse into a world that is separated from our own, even if only by a locked door, has been the provenance of voyeurs forever and is the central idea behind this tiny new painting. Except, I don’t see this as that same sort of voyeurism as the ogler who peeks for some sort of perverse pleasure. No, this is different.
This 2″ by 4″ canvas, called Keyhole and done for the upcoming Little Gems show at the West End Gallery in Corning, is not about peering in, trying to see that which is secreted away in a room behind closed doors. No, the viewer here is the one locked away in a room behind a closed door and the keyhole is a form of liberation. it reminds me a bit of my Outlaws series from a few years back where I had figures, often with handguns, that were standing by windows. They appeared at first glance to be predatory but on closer examination show themselves to be the hunted, fearful ones. They were not on the outside at all but were locked away inside, looking out the window as they cowered in their fear .
And that’s kind of how I see this piece although the viewer here is not looking out in fear but, rather, in a longing glance for freedom for whatever keeps them trapped inside. It could be as simple as a prisoner longing to walk free in the sun. Or it could be someone trapped in self-made prison who wishes that things could be different but can only see the possibility from within their captivity. There are so many possibilities in such a small piece!