Friday, October 8, 2010


Nighthawks by Edward Hopper (1942)

I felt an impulse to swear (ecstatically) when I began writing this, but I refrained from doing so because I feel that it would soil the magic of this--THIS monumental painting. I only found out about a few minutes ago the origins of this painting. But this painting is very special to me. It dug up a well of memories from my childhood that had been gnawing at my subconsciousness all these years.

I first saw this painting when I was in elementary school. Probably the fourth grade--so that was about seven years ago--while taking a cursory glance at my history textbook or something.

But the moment I saw this painting, I knew it was special. The emotion--the mood--it captured me right away. I think I was predisposed to gravitating toward melancholy at a young age, if not from the very start, for that was what I perceived immediately. Hooper himself said that he--"unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city." The gloom, the loneliness, the melancholy--it was so ubiquitous. Nighthawks settled into my brain. It was imprinted into my mind, my subconsciousness, and it probably took up residence in my heart.

What I knew throughout all these years was that this painting was, and is, indelible. It lived on vividly in my memories all these years, despite my not knowing anything about it, despite my lack of understanding its historical significance. It pervaded my dreams at night, and even nowadays, I find myself, often, thinking absentmindedly about the city, and this image always resurfaces in my imagination. Yes, I've had dreams centered around this lonely diner. Cinematic flashes of this diner in my imagination. When I envision the city, I often think about this diner, this painting, and the sentiments that it evokes.

I deeply love it. Not with exuberance, but a very calm accepting sort of love, if that makes any sense at all. It settles with me all too perfectly. It is inherent that I would feel irrevocably fascinated and drawn to this painting. But the strange thing is that I am not sure if I would call it beautiful--not beautiful in the sense that I would identify with, say, Celestial Eyes (the art gracing the cover of The Great Gatsby). It's a different sort of painting. More personal--ironically--despite the impersonal theme.

Nighthawks is quietly powerful and pervading, ubiquitous, indelible, transcendent of time, and everlasting in my eyes and mind.
It has been on my mind and in my dreams all these years, and I have finally rediscovered and discovered it again.