And then I was completely surprised by an elegant and engrossing discussion of the idea of a good painting having 'plot' and 'an 'emotional situation': the thing depicted, and what is behind the thing depicted. (Obviously, pre-mid-20th century Western art lends itself best to this analysis). And the idea of the way a thing is painted as the way that emotion is conveyed.
You see Lucian Freud’s 1995 painting “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” for instance, and your mind reads the light coming into your eyes as naked woman on a couch. But you’re also clearly, undeniably, looking at a nest of brushstrokes, which your mind works at untangling. You think, look at how this painter arranged oily rock and plant material on cotton canvas to mimic flesh. You relish the trickery of it, the duality of it being so evidently heavy paint but so much like a roll of skin. The phenomenon of two things happening at once collapses time. I think this is what makes people addicted to good painting.