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David Wesley Richardson’s portraits bring all the incidental humor of his inspiration.

Marcel Proust’s 4,200-page, 1-million-word, seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time is one of those works of literature, like Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace or James Joyce’s Ulysses, that earns more respect and awe than actual reading time.

Artist David Wesley Richardson of Carmel Valley attempted reading the book(s) three times before, and in his 60s he finally made it through. It took three years, but, he says, “I finally got it.”

And what was “it”? He’s elusive – maybe not intentionally.

“I don’t think there is a complete answer,” he says. “Any answer I give is going to be incomplete. I think any answer is going to be right: architecture, time, sports, memory, the way people relate to each other. It’s very humorous. There are incidents. It’s more fun than people think.”

Six months later, he was sitting in his studio and casually painted a portrait of an anonymous woman; he realized in the following days that it was Oriane de Guermantes, a woman from Proust’s novel.

He kept painting more portraits, guided by his own imagination, Proust’s descriptions and period research to re-create characters who populate the book. He painted 74. They are compiled in a book called Resemblance.

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Those portrait paintings are going on display at the Carl Cherry Center alongside those of Jim Dultz and Beau Bernier in an exhibition called Infinite Jest.

What does Richardson’s project mean? According to his notes, “[It] caused my time to be happily lost and found.”

Sounds like time well spent.

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