Can a picture truly paint a thousand words?
“ A picture is worth a thousand words”.
Napolean Bonaparte , who uttered these words, was an avid art lover and was poor at speaking.
Imagination has a very important role in any type of communication. And it’s the artist’s imagination, which is at the focal point , in the case of a painting. Through his paintings, the artist permits us to take a look at his mind and have a glimpse of his very soul.
The Tale Of Two Cities, starts with this : “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”. However, through a painting, an artist wishes to say to us “ This is who I am. Can you see what I see? ”
There are times when mere words aren’t enough to explain how we feel. The warm fuzzy feeling in our bellies can be explained only so far. But, with a sheet of canvas , a dash of orange, a little red and a hint of grey around the edges, there it is, staring right back at us. Georgia O’Keeffe once said “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for. “
She was right. The viewer, who is now in another world, says “I can see what you see and it is beautiful”.
A majestic painting can take you into another realm, but, a good book is unparalleled in the way that it transports us to another world. A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man, who never reads, lives only once. While reading, we become an invisible 3rd person in another world.
In a painting, it is the artist’s imagination which is at the focal point. But here, it is the imagination of the reader. Often, we are encouraged to “think outside the box”. Howevere, the box isn’t defined here. It is our box, our world and our sanctuary. A world , where we get respite from everyone and everything, somewhere where we can get real peace. And the reason for that peace, those magical wonderful books, they become the closest of friends.
The most important aspect, in any form of communication is how the receiver perceives the message. After that, what’s important is the effect it has on the receiver.
Great art summons true inspiration which can bring about the desired feelings and emotions in a viewer. Many have shed a few tears at the mere sight of a beautiful piece of art. The vast myriad of colours, textures and shades can invoke feelings, emotions and even memories.
Art often creates nostalgia, which brings back emotions related to the memories, channels it as emotions towards the painting and finally, as gratitude and respect towards the artist. Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
Words too can reach out and touch a man’s heart. A gifted tongue has the ability to melt even the coldest of hearts. It is written in the Bible “The speech of the wise is a honeycomb of honey, and it is sweet to his soul and healing to his bones.” Like a conductor with his baton, so is an orator with his tongue. Every word he speaks, sends within us , a ripple of goosepimples, which makes our hair stand on its edge. Stories, too, captivate our heart with the emotion they carry.
Sometimes, what is considered as genius at one time , may be considered as heresy at another time. Then, what’s important is to veil one message in another, to be revealed , only when the time is right.
Da Vinci and Walt Disney have been infamous in that aspect. Even Michelangelo has shown off his anatomical knowledge in some of the most minute aspect of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
History has shown us , time and again, the truth hidden through the manipulation of words, in the form of ciphers and codes, which would enchant the heart of any riddler. “Reading between the lines” sometimes becomes a necessity. These manipulations, like the Vignere cipher and the Freemason cipher played an important part in limiting the truth to those who can value and understand it.
As for the question, which we started with, both visual and verbal stimuli have their own pros and cons. It depends on the situation and the message , and thus upto the judgment of the conveyor, to know when to use what.