Some time ago I wrote about whether a person could be both a painter as well as a photographer. Since then, house hunting all over France, moving, remodelling, organizing and so forth. It was a long break from my normal contemplative routine. After some months of being back to my path I had a big insight. Somewhere along the line I had fundamentally and radically changed my work, art, and my physical health.
I am of the opinion that today art is the point where our most pressing issues and questions converge. This suggests something other than business as usual. Needless to say, not only are a large number of painters, photographers, graphic artists and so on struggling and suffering. This is also the case with a large number of fellow human beings on the planet.
We all come to our work with a mind that has been formed over millennia. That this mind is leading us in a dangerous direction is now beyond dispute. We have a glitch in the software. You are certainly entitled to think otherwise. And if the case I can only suggest that you open your mind to that possibility. What follows is speculation as to how a mind freed from the shackles of the past would approach creative work.
This is complicated by what Wyndham Lewis termed “The Demon of Progress in the Arts” published in 1955. Wyndham Lewis may be a bit strident for some. However, if you can manage to find a copy it is an interesting take by a person who was in the thick of the art world for more than half of a century.
I’ve read much of what Wyndham wrote during his long prolific life. Having been in the trenches of World War I he was passionately concerned with humanity. For those of you familiar with Saul Bellow, he was a staunch follower of Lewis.
In any case here is the thing, it seems logical to read what the experts have had to say. And some of it is interesting to read. There are a lot of good ideas to be found. At the end of the day, however, they remain just that — ideas. A long time ago it occurred to me that if ideas and good intentions could lead to the solutions for our problems we would already have arrived. The same scenario has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years. It seems that we took a wrong turn early on in our evolution. It seems neither economically feasible nor rational to continue in our same old rut.
I was a member of the Beat Generation of the 5O’s. Watching and participating in the flowering of the ideas of Peace and Love which followed left me following a personal path. The hope of communicating insights gleaned has sustained me since. It deeply saddens me to think about the world we are leaving to our young. All with the best of intentions, right? Those of us who have had the good fortune to avoid the 8 to 5 grind and engage our minds freely and fully have a special obligation. To remain fixed in old fixed patterns is not an option. Many of us are intelligent, well educated, well read, and clever enough to have stepped outside of the zeitgeist. It hasn’t been enough. We only moved slightly, maybe a few feet. All of our old solutions have not worked. They are all based on a mind that at its core can only generate thoughts, ideas, and so on based on the dead past and an imagined future. If we stop doing that something miraculous happens. It is really quite simple but far from easy. Most would say it is not possible. Well, I for one say that it is. Think about this, if it were not possible then Life on planet Earth is a very cruel joke.
What has all this to do with painting and photography you ask? Well, what I’m hinting at is closely connected with perception. I am an old bird and if I can profoundly change my health and my mind I am sure others are doing the same.
Published in french as Peinture et photographie : Deuxième partie