The Pearl Collector

Image of The Pearl Collector Original Painting

The Pearl Collector

6″ x 6″ (15cm x 15cm) Acrylic on Panel, 2014.

Suggestivism: Chronology at Copro Gallery

This original work of art was part of an exhibit at Copro Gallery, Santa Monica, CA in August of 2014 entitled Suggestivism Chronology and curated by Nathan Spoor.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.

~e e cummings

About This Painting

I love the idea of a character who’s locked in a relentless search for something.

Our need to search arises from the ache of not having, the same way a pearl takes shape from a pesky grain of sand.

When we search, the harshness of our reality co-exists with our deepest wishes. Our suffering over what we lack binds with a transcending sense of hope and faith that we’ll one day possess it.

I think there’s a real beauty in that—a harmony of contrasts in willing yourself forward when you don’t have what you need. There’s vulnerability in admitting to being totally without it, and strength in holding fast to the dream of finding it.

“The Pearl Collector” is inspired by that contrast, a sort of active acceptance that allows us to go on when we feel like something’s missing.

“He who would search for pearls must dive below.”

~ John Dryden

What I love about this kind of symbolic narrative art, and this painting especially, is how open it is to interpretation. The imagery can suggest all kinds of possible stories.

Is our hero on a noble quest for inner wisdom, or is he just looking for that next shiny fix?

Does the glowing pearl represent some special power or truth? Or will its light dull just like all the rest when it’s plucked from its source?

Whatever your interpretation, for me, the central meaning behind this piece remains the same. In the subtle emptiness of the water cherub’s chest, in the shadow of his vast collection of pearls, is that vital missing something we sometimes feel at the center of ourselves.

This painting speaks to the beauty of the search itself, to the fact that it’s not in spite of this emptiness, but because of it that The Pearl Collector goes bravely forth into the world with his burden on his back, onward through the quiet depths to search.

Maybe he’s finally found what he’s looking for, or maybe he never will. In the end I’m not sure it matters.

There’s something incredible and beautiful about the search either way.

Detail Photo of Eel and Coral from "The Pearl Collector" Painting