Category: Art

Be not mysterious but in contact with mystery!

4.2.3

Stalker (1979). Source: Open Culture

The Artist exists because the world is not perfect!

Art is born out of an ill-designed world.

Through the image is sustained an awareness of the infinite: the  eternal within the finite, the spiritual within matter, the limitless  given form. (A. Tarkovsky)

In the beginning was the word. Why Papa? (the little boy, Stalker, 1979)

Tarkovsky was not a mysterious man but a man who was in contact with mystery. He is one of those who dares to challenge himself to explore unknown ways that put aside skepticism and discouraging rationality. (Erlan Josephson about A. Tarkovsky)

Anywhere on This Road

Ce e drumul? În ce voiaje inexplicabile ne scurgem stropii de viață?

Zidul timpului pare a fi implacabil în fața puterilor noastre fizice, biologice, chiar și cele ale imaginației. Nici măcar zeii (sau oamenii deveniți zei după ce i-au alungat pe aceștia) nu sunt imuni la păienjenișul otrăvit al industrializării timpului.

Ne complacem într-un inexplicabil sevraj al realităților dulcegi, împletite cu ficțiuni convenabile, peste care punem mai apoi eticheta soft al conformismului social. Suntem la modă, în timp cu ceilalți, dar de multe ori pierduți/deposedați de sine, de ceea ce ar fi putut fi ceva al nostru, de posesia care nu poate fi furată ci doar cedată, vândută.

Ciudat paradox al zilelor noastre: nu ne prea mai batem capul cu originea noastră, dar nici nu luăm prea în serios sumedenia de ținte pe care industria scopurilor post/hipermoderne ni le oferă pe tarabe. Nu ne interesează de unde venim și nici nu suntem prea preocupați încotro ne îndreptăm. Ședem cuminți/conformiști în tiparul trăirii clipei, al solipsismului care ne face atotoputernici. Pur happening, estetică ce ține de ontologie și etică! Fugăriți de imperativele unei vieți minore ne risipim mișcările picioarelor fără a merge spre undeva, rătăcindu-ne chiar și față de celălalt, semenul de lângă noi. (Nici nu e de mirare că mulți vestici ajung să fie mai atașați emoțional de animalele lor de companie decât de proprii copii!)

Oare cine renunță la a fi tânăr?

De ce imperiul deschis al timpului ne trage pe toți într-un soi de călătorie de care nu putem scăpa? Nu bine spunea Eclesiastul că trebuie să te bucuri de lumina soarelui atât timp cât ferestrele (ochii) sunt încă deschise? Pașii, mai întâi împleticiți, după aceea viguroși și mândri, pentru ca apoi să ajungă din nou împleticiți, ne alungă într-un vagabondaj printr-o viață prea puțin înțeleasă. Imposibila situare în inerție ne împinge pe mulți dintre noi  în brațele ereziilor de care ne vom căi la bătrânețe. Dar din alternanța imaginilor, a persoanelor și a evenimentelor se hrănește mintea, imaginația și speranțele noastre. Și totuși aici avem un alt paradox: luxurianța formelor și a culorilor de azi ne lasă tot mai puțin pregătiți în fața cenușiului morbid cu care ne vom întâlni atunci când ceasul biologic își va fi epuizat mișcarea. Poate că suntem călători spre cimitir, unii cu speranța continuării pe un drum mai bun, alții cu credința că averea de cuvinte, simțăminte și vise pe care au strâns-o se va topi într-o anonimă tăcere. În fuga noastră către o moarte cât mai cool, eventual amețită și complexată de efectele unei tehnologii aproape atotputernice, nu ne rămânem decât să  jucăm regia sloganelor pe care le învățăm în continuu de la grădiniță: “believe in yourself!”, “the greatest challenge of your life is to trust and believe in your power!”, etc.

Dar oriunde pe acest drum noi, prizonierii regi, putem să ne rupem legăturile solipsismului regelui care se admiră/ascultă doar pe sine și putem cu adevărat să descoperim Celălalt, în a cărui oglindire drumul nostru nu va fi fost inutil, ci va căpăta o continuare perpetuă, dincolo de zidul timpului.

I live in this country now
I’m called by this name
I speak this language
It’s not quite the same
For no other reason
Than this it’s my home
And the places i used to be
far from are gone

You’ve travelled this long
You just have to go on
Don’t even look back to see
How far you’ve come
Though your body is bending
Under the load
There is nowhere to stop
Anywhere on this road

My heart is breaking
I cannot sleep
I love a man
Who’s afraid of me
He believes if he doesn’t
Stand guard with a knife
I’ll make him my slave
For the rest of his life

I love this hour
When the tide is just turning
There will be an end
To the longing and yearning
If i can stand up
To angels and men
I’ll never get swallowed
In darkness again

You’ve travelled this long
You just have to go on
Don’t even look back to see
How far you’ve come
Though your body is bending
Under the load
There is nowhere to stop
Anywhere on this road

Peter Milton, Hidden Cities I: The Ministry (Second State). 2006

If Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities had a soundtrack, this would be it.(…)

– What does the road mean to you?

– Movement. Change. Time. Adventure. Accidents of all kinds. A story. A life. A billion lives. Also back pain. Truck stops. Stiff legs. Dirty bathrooms. Overcooked carrots. (Lhasa de Sela interviewed by Montréal Magazine)

Kandinsky’s Spirituality

The most influential artist to fall under Madame Blavatsky’s spell was Wassily Kandinsky, often credited with being the first abstract artist. In his highly influential book On the Spiritual in Art (1911), Kandinsky affirmed the neo-Platonic doctrine that “everything has a secret soul”—the stars, moon, woods, flowers. The pathology of modern society, he said, consists in its failure to discern the soul in all things: “In this era of the deification of matter, only the physical, that which can be seen by the physical ‘eye,’ is given recognition. The soul has been abolished.”

The reason Kandinsky rejected realism in his art was that he associated it with materialism. If artists follow the rule to paint “only what the eye sees,” then clearly they are limited to material objects. Kandinsky decided that the way to get rid of materialist philosophy was to get rid of material objects in favor of abstraction. Abstract art, he said was “less suited to the eye than to the soul.” It would liberate the mind from “the harsh tyranny of the materialistic philosophy,” becoming “one of the most powerful agents” of spiritual renewal. Kandinsky’s style is called biomorphic abstraction because its forms echo the curved lines of living things.

SPIRITUAL EVOLUTIONISM

BIOMORPHIC ABSTRACTION

7-18 Wassily Kandinsky

Yellow, Red, Blue, 1925

7-19 Franz Marc

Horse and Eagle

Art as an agent of spiritual renewal

To support his Theosophy-inspired spiritualism, Kandinsky appealed to the rise of atomic theory. Newton had presumed that the atom is a hard, solid mass, like a tiny billiard ball. The term atom literally means something that cannot be further divided (Greek: a = not, tomos = cut). But in 1911 Ernest Rutherford shot atomic particles at a paper-thin sheet of gold foil, and was amazed to discover that most of the particles went right through! Only a few zinged off in various directions—which told him that atoms consist mostly of empty space, with a tiny nucleus in the center. Suddenly, the world of ordinary experience seemed like an illusion. The floor beneath your feet, which seems so solid, is really mostly empty space. The quantity of matter it contains is miniscule. It holds you up mostly by fields of force within the atom.

Many seized on the new atomic theory as scientific support for philosophical idealism (the doctrine that reality is ultimately mental,not material). “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a machine,” exulted physicist James Jeans in 1931. “Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter . . . we ought to rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”

Kandinsky likewise heralded the new physics as the end of materialism. “The collapse of the atom model was equated, in my soul, with the collapse of the whole world,” he wrote. “Suddenly the stoutest walls crumbled. . . . Science seemed destroyed: its most important basis was only an illusion.” Indeed, is there even “such a thing as matter?”

The world seemed to be dissolving into invisible forces, which seemed akin to spiritual forces. Franz Marc, whose Horse and Eagle is shown above, used lines of force in his paintings to suggest those invisible energies, which he incorporated into a pantheistic view of nature. In his words, “I want a style [expressing] a sensitivity for the organic rhythm of all things, a pantheistic empathy with the vibration and flow of blood in nature.” Historians often lump together all forms of abstraction. Yet geometric abstraction, with its straight lines and right angles, was formalist (lower story). Biomorphic abstraction with its rounded organic shapes, was expressive (upper story). As Gene Edward Veith notes, even as art grew abstract, it continued to show the same bifurcation into “the formalistic and the expressive” modes.

We can recognize the same divide in architecture (below). Whereas formalist architecture had produced austere glass-and-steel boxes, inspired by ideals of geometry and balance, expressionist architecture produced organic or biomorphic shapes, with a sense of movement. (…)

(Pearcey, Nancy, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning, B&H Books, p. 198-200.)

O vorbă de-a lui Shakespeare

Câteodată nu pot să îmi ascund fascinația onirismului nocturn, romantic în esența lui, în care simți fiorul care face ca o lume să se clădească și să se distrugă în egală măsură. Liniile clare și distincte ale raționalizării (apolinice, diurne, ca să folosesc dihotomia lui Nietzsche trecută prin filtrul antropologiei imaginarului lui Gilbert Durand) sunt estompate de domeniul petelor, al penumbrelor care valorizează fiecare petic de lumină. Gotic sau latin, acest fantastic nocturn e scena în care natura e martora deloc tăcută a dramelor umane. Atunci când chipul semenului e umbrit de  demonii care-l chinuie întru ură și distrugere, natura ne devine partenerul întru odihnă și dragoste.  Următorul pasaj al lui Shakespeare e grăitor pentru idealizarea naturii ca refugiu al unei iubiri imposibile:

Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night… (W. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 2, 20)

Ieșirea din cetate ne dă prilejul să vedem mai bine grădina pe care am pierdut-o și pe care o idealizăm prin poezii. Dar poate că tocmai ăsta e și rolul poeziei: a ne (re)învăța un limbaj și o (re)experimentare a unei lumi ale căror poduri/lianturi au fost extirpate din natura noastră prin mecanismele noastre reflexe de supraviețiure animalică, de dominație în câmpul social, de sclavi ai producției economice și tehnologice.

Notă:

Pentru o discuție foarte instructivă asupra procesului de separare dar și de reîntâlnire dintre artă/literatură și religie recomand Modes of Faith. Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief a lui Theodore Ziolkowski (Chicago University Press, 2007) și The Re-enchantment of the World: Art versus Religion, scrisă de Gordon Graham (Cambridge, 2007).

The Mill and the Cross (Peter Bruegel)

Behind every great painting lies an even greater story

Lech Majewski  – a widely reputed Polish visual artist with retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in NY and artworks on view at the Venice Biennale (see: www.lechmajewski.com) – has created a motion picture THE MILL & THE CROSS based on the painting by Peter Bruegel, The Way to Calvary.

The inspiration came from the book The Mill & the Cross, written by a renowned Art historian, Michael Francis Gibson, in which the story of Christ’s Passion is set in Flanders in the year 1564, the very year Bruegel painted his masterpiece. Among the five hundred plus figures swarming over the Bruegel’s canvas, Gibson, together with Majewski, selected a dozen characters whose life stories unfold and intertwine. To recreate this unique work on film, a group of computer graphic wizards produced backgrounds from the original Bruegel paintings, an elaborate task, in view of the amount of special effects required.

Lech Majewski is an expert in such undertakings – his feature The Garden of Earthly Delights based on the painting by Hieronymus Bosch was called by the Sight & Sound a “masterpiece”; and by The Washington Post: “the most powerful film made in years”. He wrote the original story and produced Julian Schnabel’s debut Basquiat. Majewski’s latest film Glass Lips based on his installation at the 2007 Venice Biennale was described by The New York Times as “beautiful and hypnotic!”; while Variety wrote: “Glass Lips exerts a chilly fascination from minute to minute, it’s harshly beautiful, dialogue-free meditation.”

In THE MILL & THE CROSS, Rutger Hauer plays Peter Bruegel. His friend Jonghelinck, a banker and art collect is portrayed by Michael York and Mary is played by Charlotte Rampling. (www.themillandthecross.com)

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