Painting Blog > Artist-Art > Big Questions

Big Questions

Originally posted on June, 5, 2007

"The little house", oil on canvas, 46cm x 38cm, June 2007

With Cézanne came the painters concern for the problems of man. Improvement of life as well as the world became important concerns. These are vital concerns but it is a mistake for the painter to directly address them. Our concern is to explore perception and visual experience.

The philosophical and the literary domains directly address the big questions of life. Their difficulties in adequately understanding and explaining “experience” has led our culture astray. (I’m using the world “experience” in a Kantian sense.) We now seem incapable of solving life’s most basic problems. We have a technological paradise in the middle of cultural squalor, war, and human starvation. Enough said…

Since adolescence I’ve pursued a better understanding of philosophical and literary problems. This has been done from an artistic perspective: a concern with life as well as a medium of expression. This medium is not a philosophical dialogue nor is it literary. Writing has always been difficult for me. It is not my medium of choice. Painting is. By the same token, talking about life’s problems particularly with a few glasses of good spirits, never fails for me to be enjoyable and stimulating.

The impressionists had some misconceptions about their culture and the big philosophical and literary ideas. However, they wisely refrained from engaging the philosophical and the literary. Other movements that were motivated by ideas of a religious or political nature, or the philosophical, enjoyed only limited success.

The importance of the liberation of colors by the impressionists has not been understood neither appreciated by yesterdays nor today’s intellectuals. It raises a profound doubt as to the accuracy of Kant’s understanding of intuition. Other questions follow. But it is not really the painter’s job to verbally educate the intellectuals. They must enquire.

For those of you not familiar with the importance of Emmanuel Kant, he was the Copernicus of Western intellectual and philosophical thought: the tipping point. He ended the rationalistic and the empirical explanations of human knowledge. We have with Kant an idealistic and psychological description of experience: an experience that is divided into the subject who knows and the object to be known.


Published in french as Grandes questions


Comments are closed.