How eloquent is a back?
On our travels the Hub always loved taking photos from the back. He called it his signature shot. My interest is more in things, in what Thomas Aquinas (get me!) called quidditas, the “thingness” of things, their quintessence. No wonder when I was painting in oils, I chose to paint still lifes in the 18th century manner.
But when I saw a person leaning into a chair, relaxed, at a family party, I snapped a photo without thinking, a gut reaction. Only when I got it on the computer did I realize that it was Amalya. It’s not a conventional “portrait” by any means, and yet, and yet — to me it conveys her essential qualities. Why is she resting so quietly? Well, she’s tired out from the mountain of work she’s quietly done to make sure everyone’s been fed and made comfortable. She’s quiet now, recharging her batteries probably. She’s someone who’s always in action, usually behind the scenes. She surely needs to recharge those batteries! Does this make her sound, and look, TOO quiet, too passive? She isn’t. She’s also smiling and full of fun. Just not always.
How eloquent is a back? Perhaps it depends on who’s doing the viewing. We could always call the photo “Arrangement in Yellow, Brown, and Black”, after Whistler and his mother! But to me, this is a portrait of Amalya, and it speaks volumes.