These five paintings will keep you company as you gather the strength to get over your ex.
The period after breaking up with someone can be a creatively fruitful time for anyone. Even if you’re not the most artistically inclined person, all the feelings that come with a heartbreak can inspire your creativity. There’s something kind of aggressive about creating things, about having an idea and daring to shape it for the world to see it. That vibrant and energetic force is precisely what we need to feel during those times, because letting it out will console us in one way or another. The only problem is that, sometimes, we’re too harsh on ourselves, and we want the art that comes out of our pain to be perfect. Of course, it won’t be. It will be messy and –most likely– a bit corny. However, throughout history there have been artists who have known how to depict the chaos of those feelings in such an accurate way that we can connect with their works. Even if these artists meant entirely different things while creating their work, you can appropriate it for your heart’s sake and interpret it any way you want to. If you want some help with that, here are five paintings that can keep you company as you gather the strength to truly get over your ex.
Gravestone by Jean-Michel Basquiat
When we’re ready to begin the process of getting over someone we love, the first thing we need to do is to really accept the fact that the relationship is over. That acceptance comes after an important time of grief, and we shouldn’t skip this step if we want to move on properly. To assimilate a harsh truth like the end of a meaningful relationship, you can connect with an artist’s grief through the work that comes out of it. With Gravestone, Jean-Michel Basquiat processed the death of his friend Andy Warhol, creating a sense of closure for himself. As you get over someone, you need to give yourself time to mourn and close that episode of your life to begin a new one.
A Few Small Nips by Frida Kahlo
As time passes, your heartbreak will start feeling a little lighter. It won’t torment you every second of the day, and you’ll even be able to briefly forget about your ex when you’re busy or distracted. The problem is that the memory will come back to you, and the heavy pain that you felt before will break through in small bursts, like quick stabs. If the relationship ended badly, you’ll still feel sad and angry, but the anger can come along with a kind of macabre sense of humor, like the one in Frida Kahlo’s art. This gory painting, despite depicting a crime, was created as a cathartic means for Frida to portray her feelings after finding out that Diego Rivera, her husband, had an affair with her sister.
At Eternity's Gate by Vincent Van Gogh
If you know a little bit about Van Gogh’s story, you probably know that he was desperate for love. During his lifetime, a lot of people rejected him due to his eccentricity and mental illness, but he remained hopeful and open, willing to give love even when he wasn’t receiving it. Van Gogh’s art can comfort you during those moments when you feel that all of the progress you made seems to vanish, and you feel like you’re starting from scratch because you’re desperate to get back together with your ex. You text, you call, and you leave them embarrassing voice messages. Don’t feel bad about it and just try to get back on track. Remember that, at least, nobody’s cutting off any ears.
Interior with an Etruscan Vase by Henri Matisse
In a letter, Henri Matisse once wrote: "I have always tried to hide my own efforts and wished my works to have the lightness and joyousness of a springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has costed." Those words remind me of this particularly bittersweet stage in the process of getting over an ex. The stage where, like Matisse, we try to hide the great effort it takes us to appear calm and happy, as if the break up that is still killing us happened in a past life.
Farbentanz by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
This painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner makes me think about the last stage of the process. Its wild colors and the peaceful joy in the faces of the three women make me think about the moment when we realize that we’re not in pain anymore, and we decide to celebrate that with our closest friends. However, the painting isn’t entirely happy. The wild movement and the sharp contrasts can convey the fact that, yes, we’re over it, but we still remember the relationship with some nostalgia. We’re willing to celebrate life again, but the looming certainty that everything fades away, both bad and good things, so we can start from scratch again and improve.
People usually say that, after a bad breakup, we’re left a little traumatized, unable to love in the same way again. Hopefully, that won’t happen to you, and you’ll be able to recognize that pain is always a risk in love and relationships. I hope that these works of art remind you that such a risk is worth taking, again and again.
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