One bowl of Dutch strawberries could save your relationship
This bowl of strawberries was painted by a Dutch artist called Adrien Coorte at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Coorte (generally unknown outside his native Netherlands) loved painting modest, everyday things: like loaves of bread, glasses, chairs and, most of all, strawberries (and pears).
In theory, we already think that strawberries are nice. But Coorte has made a monument to them. He wants to re-sensitise us to what they are really like, in all their detailed complexity. In the process, he’s reminding us that we probably respect and love an aspect of the world more than we thought, and showing us that there are things we take for granted all around us, things we don’t quite appreciate fully because habit has blinded us to their qualities.
He’s looking at strawberries like an appreciative stranger, refinding a sense of wonder and encouraging us to do the same. There are no distractions: a simply-patterned cream and green Chinese bowl, a plain backdrop, a white flower – the ideal calm setting to reconnect us with a simple delight.
The artist knows something about us: how familiarity dulls our appreciation of everything that is on offer all the time; how much is on our minds, how little we are able to focus and take stock of life passing by. By inviting us to concentrate just for a minute or two, his work of art helps to refresh our sense of the value of an everyday element which symbolically stands for everything we have forgotten.
We need to do with many things what Coorte did with strawberries. Starting with, at the very least and perhaps most urgently, our partners.