Ekphrasis from the Pompidou Center

Ekphrasis or ecphrasis, from the Greek description of a work of art, possibly imaginary, produced as a rhetorical exercise,[1] and is a graphic, often dramatic, description of a visual work of art. 

 

extension, 1989

by jesus rafael soto

ekphrasis by Maya Critchfield

 

your eyes are red and your feet tired from walking through endless rooms of flat, bright paintings, motionless bronze, wax, and wood. this is the last room and you walk out of it, at once glad to have come here and glad to be leaving.

 

but something awaits you as you leave: a large black and red rectangular structure. it’s not clear what it is made of, and it gives the impression of being both firm and ethereal. you walk toward it and suddenly you are looking out on a sea of black and red and white. your every movement brings changes in it’s surface. even a slight nod of your head causes shimmering ripples to break out on the black, revealing red and white below the surface. the red is hazy and spotted, but the white shines in rays, bright and direct, like the momentary glimpse of a falling star on a dark night.

 

you realize for the first time that you are not alone in the sea, but surrounded by other onlookers like you, all crouching and pacing and shaking their heads at what they are seeing. catching a another’s eyes you see your own wonder reflected in theirs and can’t help but smile. you back away, watching how the sea reacts from your slow retreat. the colors shift and meld with each other like a rising tide. you turn your back on the sea and walk, slowly, your feet heavy once more.

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