After a long day of exploring Vienna I have to rest my feet. The heat of the day baked exhaustion into my body, but my mind wanders and wonders, how am I supposed to take it all in? The old buildings, the sparkling fountains, the vast churches. The lines, the colours, the brush strokes, the intent, the way a painting magically transforms as you move closer and further. I love Vienna. Vienna is a city for low light, especially in summer when the midday sun bouncing off the concrete would burn your eyes and melt your muscle. When evening sets in, however, the low sun highlights the elaborate building facades, creating golden edges, soft shadows, majesty and stoicism. Our bodies and minds are free to enjoy it.
The Belvedere was built as a summer residence for a Prince, but now it houses art. With so much to see, I wonder how I am meant to have absorbed it all. I try to walk the corridors of my memory, experience again the vast colourful orchestra captured in movement. I could see them playing, see the music floating from their instruments and swirling through the air. The musician’s faces showing so genuinely their complete sense of being lost in the act of creating sound with the philharmonic orchestra. The music is orange and golden and magnificent.
I wander my memory so I can know again the feeling of staring at Monet, watch the water ripple and the flowers and plants along with it. Examining brushstrokes up close and watching them magically transform into a building and garden at a distance. This walk takes me to Klimt, a robe of gold, geometric colour and hands clasping, caressing each other’s face. I wander to a stark vista, a building, a tree, an avenue. Farmland, I believe, and the simplicity of the light colours and strong dark lines makes the painting look ethereal and dreamy. Somewhere in these halls I find vast ceilings of angels and cherubs, golden trims and crumbling statues of medieval times. Faces screwed up in a variety of amusing, confusing, intriguing expressions. Detailed closeups of a magical forest scene, mushrooms growing and butterflies flitting between them above the roots of an old tree.
There is, too, a glimpse into Vienna’s past. The wald or forest of Vienna. A view over the tops of villages of an old city. How it might have looked to those that wandered some hundred or hundreds of years ago. The Naschmarkt and Stephansplatz. We walk through time with Franz Josef and Empress Elizabeth, with villagers and painters, with musicians and sculptors, with foragers and hunters, even as far back as to the birth and crucifixion of Jesus.
Much of the art here focuses on religion, and I consider the solace and peace of worship. For me, worship is for beauty, for good, for contemplation of the self and the simplicity of being and accepting. Not only just to live in coexistence, but to live in understanding and with generosity. There is no room for religion in my worship, and I wonder what Jesus would think of the evolution of christianity, the various interpretations today, and what we might chat about.
Leaving this thought, my memory moves me back outside to the sculptures and hedges and fountains of the gardens, all creating strong lines leading the eyes back to the palaces of the Belvedere. The storm clouds are gathering and the air is heavy and warm, but I am back in the apartment before the clouds let go, sitting with my feet up, with my computer balanced on my lap, listening to the gentle drops of rain on the window, wondering how relieved the concrete must feel, and I imagine that the city is sighing.