Read more:

Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What is art?

Be relieved, dear reader, I have no intention of writing a discursive essay on the definitions of art, only to conclude it's anything and everything.

I am rather taken, though, by the breadth of things and experiences that the term now covers, even if we exclude art as skill plus something else, as in the art of cooking.

This train of thought was started by the show at MONA by Marina Abramović (Private Archaelogy), which
involves the use of objects and simple rituals - either by the audience or the artist herself - to transport us to full consciousness of the present moment.
In particular, I was taken by the reports of Counting the Rice , where you count grains of rice as a process of developing mindfulness.

As someone who has undertaken a number of mindfulness exercises and meditations over the years, I think I get the value and potential depth of this experience. It closes down the I-mind (the ego-based, rational, logical mind) and allows the holistic mind (the intuitive and integrative mind) to be consciousness (See Iain McGilchrist's ground-breaking book The Master and His Emissary). Or, if you like, it appeals to the human spirit as soul.

But, the classificatory brain had to object that this is not art. After musing for some time on this, I realised that, for me, art makes the same appealas a gateway to a more integrative consciousness but it does so through different means. I am thinking primarily about visual art, although I think the same applies to music and dance.

The mindfulness experience uses repetitive physical actions coupled with focus on the actions themselves, thereby boring the rational purposive mind to sleep.  Non-artistic artists also use other means to break the dominance of the logical controlling mind, such as sensory deprivation or enhancement, emotional tension, shock, paradox and moral confrontation, (Zen Buddhists will go Aha! at this point).

What I see as art uses a different strategy and that is to appeal through the senses and the emotions to an element of integrated consciousness that I can only term beauty. I use the term beauty not to mean prettinessindeed, beauty may be terrifying, horrible or ugly but rather in the same sense as John Keats
I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of Imagination - What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth - whether it existed before or not - for I have the same idea of all our passions as of love: they are all, in their sublime, creative of essential beauty. Letter to John Bailey
 And no, I can't define Beauty, any more than I can define Art, but I know it when I see it. The rational mind is stunned into the silence of the Imaginationsoul or integrative consciousness.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The power of art

I'm not sure that anyone could have put the case for the continuing relevance of art as well as the late, brilliant  Robert Hughes in the "New Shock of the New" documentary.

Painting and drawing bring us in to a different— a deeper and more fully experienced relationship to the object. We have had a gutful of fast art and fast food. What we need more of is slow art; art that holds time as a vase holds water; art that grows out of a modes of perception and making whose skill and doggedness make you think and feel; art that isn’t merely sensational, that doesn’t get its message across in ten seconds, that isn’t falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep running in our natures in a word art that is the very opposite of mass media. 

Painting is, you might say, exactly what mass visual media are not; a way of specific engagement not of general seduction. That is its continuing relevance to us. Everywhere and at all times there is a world to be re-formed by the dazzling subtlety and persistent slowness of the painter’s eye. There is beauty in pure paint confidently handled.
The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning.
… today I think we are left with a more modest, but an equally difficult task for art to do, and that is to be beautiful, to manifest beauty. People need beauty. There’s a hunger for it amid the clamour of visual imagery that surrounds us and so we seek out zones of silence and contemplation, arenas of free thought and unregimented feeling.

The idea that aesthetic experience provides a transcendent understanding is at the very heart of art. It fulfils a deep human need.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

An art statement (sort of)

Well, at least some musings that might be considered such...

What I would like is for the viewer of my art to look at the world through my eyes for a moment.

That is to say, to imaginatively enter the gestalt of soul-mind-heart-body which was my current point of consciousness in the flux of all-there-is.

That is to say, to intuit what I intuit as beauty and grace (soul), to apperceive what I apperceive as nous (mind), to feel what I feel (heart), to perceive what I perceive (body) through the image.

The image is the conjuring up of my intuiting, apperception, feeling and sensation before the reality of objects and encounters with the unseen.

I am not concerned with  merely representing objects, or illustrating ideas and concepts, or mocking notions of the past, or entertaining gallery goers — all concerns of current art trends. Rather, I am concerned to evoke, by the means at my disposal, a parallel experience to my own.

That is to say, poiesis