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The Painters’ Desire

May 30th, 2009

"Spring Meadow", oil on mat board, 20cm x 16cm, 2009
"Spring Meadow", oil on mat board specifically prepared for oil, 20cm x 16cm, 2009

What are the effects of the painter’s desires? What about the motivations leading to the perceptions and execution of a particular work. At what point do conviction and a sense of purpose come into play?

In asking these sorts of questions we come to realize that we cannot separate the painter from life. The life of the painters, their thinking and ideas, what they eat for breakfast and so on come first. Technique and style we find to be of only secondary concern.

A painter arrives at the moment of making a brushstroke as a consequence of living. The past that constitutes that life invokes itself in the stroke. If the painter is of one piece each of these brushstrokes contribute to a painting that speaks to us as a complete statement. That is to say we have then something felt and seen as a unified whole.

It feels strange to write these words. Is it not self-evident, these things? Well, no. They are routinely overlooked and misunderstood even as they appear to have been questioned in depth.

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Impressionism was the Day before Yesterday

Originally posted on February, 18, 2008

I believe that most people who read are aware of the anti-intellectual bias. That was written about periodically throughout the twentieth century. Recently, it was written about one more time by an American author, Susan Jacoby. Her decision to write this book was based on a real life experience that took place, I believe, in a New York bar on the day of 11 September 2001. She overheard a conversation between two young men. One of them said to the other that it was like Pearl Harbor. The other asked: “what is Pearl Harbor?? The response was that it was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs on a harbor and started the Vietnam War. Overhearing this conversation was the jolt that prompted her to write yet another book about the intellectual health of our culture. A major book on this subject had already been written. Richard Hostadter covered this theme with his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1963 book, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life?. We are today being informed that in the US two out of three students in their last year of high school cannot read beyond a remedial level. While Europe is in much better shape, the trend is not good.

What does this have to do with art and painting? To adequately address this question would require a much longer article than I have the time to write. Nonetheless, I will continue.

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Big Answers

Originally posted on June, 15, 2007

I guess that I never was educated out of believing in answers. All of us, when we were little, did not become nervous when the teacher put a problem on the blackboard. We KNEW that she had the answer. Somewhere along the line most of us forget that life is like that. There could not be a problem, or a question, unless there was a pre-existing answer. It cannot be otherwise There are many complex explanations as to why we forget this. One often overlooked reason, is that much of what shapes and underlies modern reality is not sensible. Buckminster Fuller wrote about this. He talked about the changes in industry during the first-world war. The new technology became invisible. (And when the masters of technology reached the point where they no longer understand what was going on? Then what?) Another big reason why we devalue our innate intelligence is our poor understanding of what art is and how it functions.

A much used method of explaining modern culture is to class people into two groups: the literary/artist type and the scientific type. Then you oppose art and science and explain art on scientific terms. All that has been written based on this reasoning is nonsense. Point. Okay, I understand those who live in a glass house should not throw stones. But this is too important. I have read tons of art criticism. Most of it, particularly from the 20th century, is nonsense. Literary people are no longer seeing the forest for the trees. It must be the fault of our education system. Verbal expression is by its very nature dualistic. Visual imagery in the form of paintings or photographs is two dimensional. We can allude to the non-dualistic or to the third dimension but we cannot change the nature of the medium. When we try to do so, for me, it simply becomes nonsense.

Art is not technology. Art is measured in terms of EVERYTHING. Art is directly related to the world (all there is). A work of Art contains NO content. Confusion continues on this point because the literati continue as though it is possible to separate form and content. THERE IS NO CONTENT. Nothing is hidden. Art’s function is to nourish us; to expand our sensibilities and our consciousness. There are not any formulas to follow. None the less this is the big answer to the question of Art. What our modern and somewhat deprived world needs is a new and more open way of looking at the world. Hopefully, we will reaffirm our connection to the sensible.

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” Oscar Wilde, in a letter.

Published in french as Grandes réponses

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Clarification

Originally posted on May, 26, 2007

I am receiving some e-mails with comments and questions seeking clarification. I am very much encouraged by them. These people have a unique quality that is all too rare these days. It is not many people who think below the surface of things.

The words we use are important even though, at the same time, they erect barriers and limitations to the clarity of our thought. The word culture did not even appear until the year 1510. This was the early beginning of the modern attempt to separate content from form. Most people today are concerned with art only in terms of its content. They put works of art in the box and label it accordingly to it supposed purpose. Where did the magic go ? Mankind’s earlier experiences of art most certainly where magical.

Now, today, it has become quite problematical to speak or write on these matters. We can today only question our way of justifying art. Beyond that it has become like a never-never do-do land.

One more thing before I stop ranting. Art critics have now found a clever way to circumvent the entire problem. They do not talk about art at all. They simply psychoanalyse the artist. What better way to make art opaque and manageable ? Is this the intellect triumphant or a clear avoidance of deeper thinking?

It is not easy to “overcome” our race mind thinking. To approach what we call the artistic and creative side of life demands much effort. The concepts we use in this effort are crutches. Just crutches.

Denis

Published in french as Clarification

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