A few times in my life I’ve been startled by a painting, as though I passed by a mirror and mis-recognized my face. The first time was in high school when I saw “La Toilette” (1896) by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec in an art book. I jolted up and looked around the classroom, as though others would make the same identification and point it out.
And in the last year or two, I did a double take at “Girl with Beret” by Lucian Freud.
Each time this happens, it feels eerie and vulnerable, like I’ve been exposed on canvas before I was even born. I’m left wondering if I merely identify with a haircut or hair color, or the painter captured some other essence that I feel tethered to.