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Painting the Universe

Originally posted on November, 22, 2007

"Man and Nature", watercolor, 52cm x 37cm, 100% cotton paper, 1998.

The uniqueness of the pre and early 60’s San Francisco art movement was …. How to put this? Let me put it this way: at a certain point, it was well understood that those who remember the 60’s were not there. The “scene? if it was anything, was a life changing experience. It changed people. It connected them, in a way, to the entire universe. This was not, of course, the popular “hippie? experience thing. What I’m talking about was the experience of a unique way of experiencing in an intellectual and artistic sense: An intellectual pursuit somewhat removed from rational thinking and directly concerned with the experience of life. Above all it was freedom … freedom to have an individual understanding of our relationship with life. Jung’s work on psychological types helped me a lot in this area. Viva la difference.

Long after the 60’s I began to think about the “pioneer spirit? in this context. Well, thinking is not the correct word. I intuited that the people who were the early workers in this art movement were infected with something. This something has been labelled the pioneer spirit. It was a subtle psychological shift in people’s relationship to nature and the entire world, the universe. These people began to experience themselves as an integral part of the whole thing. Struggle and hardship taught them to engage the world intimately. Intimately because in fact you experience yourself as a part of it!

At first glance it seems so obvious that we are part of the world. But European and hence American culture has been conditioned for centuries with an egocentric anthropomorphic view of the world. The pioneers (who a generation or two before headed west in covered wagons until they reached the Pacific Ocean) were no doubt unconsciously seeking a new view of things. And this new view was consciously engaged in the beginning stages of “avant garde? art in California.

Comments about my painting are always welcomed. Creativity does not take place in a vacuum It is none the less amusing to me what many people comment on the lack of people in my landscape painting. For me, there is simply no need to put people into a landscape. We are already there. No separation exists visually, mentally, or emotionally.

Published in french as Peindre l’univers

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