Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 1
I do not believe that there was ever
a question of being abstract or
representational. It is really
a matter of ending this silence
and solitude, of breathing
and stretching one’s arms again.
MARK ROTHKO 1903 – 1970
Tom Stoppard said that, “Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.” Pretty harsh words from on e point-of-view or, it’s spot on from another.
John Ralston Saul, the author of Voltaire’s Bastards – The Dictatorship of Reason in the West – wrote, “The particularity of Westerners has been their obsession with presenting gods, through images, not as devils or animals or abstractions, but as human beings. The painter’s role has always stemmed from that basic metaphysical and social need. The gods live forever and we are created in their image. These repeated identifying mortal imitations do not simply reflect our dreams of immortality.”
He continues, “The image, in idolatry as in animism, is a magic trap. In the West the painter’s and sculptor’s job has been to design the perfect trap for human immortality. As craftsmen their efforts were aimed for thousands of years at technical improvements. In the years around 1500, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo made the final breakthroughs to the accurate representation of reality. There was, however, no accompanying metaphysical change. No heightened sense of magical power.”
John Ralston Saul goes on to say, “The result has been a growing chasm between the image and society. The craftsmen-artists have retreated onto a plane of their own. In their place as social participants we have two groups of image makers: the modern equivalent of the official artists, who receive approval from the museum experts; and the new ritualists, who produce electronic imitations of reality. What television and film have brought us is images realer than reality and yet, images separated from belief in a society which for the first time in almost two millennia does not believe.”
I’ll close with a title from one of Paul Gauguin’s Tahiti paintings: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? Need I say more?Posted on: 10/05/2012, by : rrfortier