Painting Review, Dialogue at Five, Herman Maril

4 Feb

What we see in Dialogue at Five is a group of people at cocktail hour, overlooking the sea.  Food and drinks are set out, and everybody seems to be on some sort of pier.

None of them have faces.  They all are just elongated bodies in different positions, like artist dummies.  A group of three are on the right side, having what looks like, party conversation.  A couple sits at one of the tables, a woman with a hunched over posture, and a man, looking at her.  His posture is somewhat inscrutable, but might be a little tense.  Another woman stands to the side watching them.

We don’t know what they’re talking about, perhaps the normal ups and downs of human living.  Two things add to this painting, the shadows, which follow all the people into the bottom of the pier, clearer than clear, sort of pinning them down in their respective spots, like this was some sort of snapshot, forever frozen in time.  Also, beyond them, the waterline rising beyond the pier.  Far from being a cozy party, the group is set in outside space, where water goes beyond the horizon.  This makes the space between their poses seem almost infinite.  Nobody touches.

Added to that the light pink sky behind them, the cocktail hour at sunset, one wonders why they have it there, as beautiful as the area seems, nobody is appreciating it, they all seem stuck in their poses, unable to see with their eyeless heads, caught up in conversation and idle chitchat.

The weight the central woman holds, so definite in her unhappiness, this dialogue at five might be a simple recitation, she might be the one who unloads her miseries at these parties, hoping for a sympathetic ear, but it’s her body that holds the full message, curled up, tired, hunched, weary.  So different than the other skinny figures in the background.

Perhaps that’s why this otherwise pretty picture holds a touch of melancholy in it.    All the figures seem lighter than air but this woman and she clearly does not fit in, though nobody seems put off by her, perhaps curious, that’s about it.  In the party that chatters away next door to the sea.

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