Something remembered. Something imagined.
There are some pieces of art that are striking not for what they do say, but rather for what they do not. I find these pieces uniquely powerful. With a correctly caught balance, their vagueness can be initially impenetrable, but all the more vivid as the viewer is urged to fill in the blanks for themselves.
Often relying on a memory of form to do this, such pieces establish an alarmingly intimate relationship with the viewer. Too clear a narrative, and the imagination is not stimulated. Too abstract, and their meaning is missed. Pieces that catch this balance are as clothes horses for the fabric of the mind, and the effect is extraordinary.
Seeing the human form is one of our most primitive urges, and for this reason (amongst many) artworks that refer even loosely to the figure will be read as such, and are captivating.
I wonder if architecture has an equivalent. Certainly the primitive hut has been suggested as the basis of classicism, its rudimentary form finessed through generations of mimesis.
For me, Romanesque architecture seems to capture this quality so well. It remembers classicism, but is no slave to its rigor. At the same time, its relaxed composition can be strikingly modern. It is at once implacable, but strangely familiar.