Life feels less threatening when we back away. Wild animals feel safer when they're in a zoo, trees are safer in parks, and art is safer in museums, behind glass. But we pay a high price for our safety, don't we? We will never know what a wild animal really is if we only see it in a zoo, trees can never be fully trees in a park, and contemplative art must be experienced intimately, up close and personally.
“There must be always remaining in every man’s life some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathlessly beautiful.” -- Howard Thurman (1900-1981) African American minister and educator
Have I ever made anything that could be called breathlessly beautiful? Have I ever tried? I don't think in terms of beauty all the time, but the more I think of proportion the more I think of perfect proportion.
A friend asked me recently if this is how I see the world, as ordered and beautiful. My answer is that this is how I see the invisible world, the world within the apparent world. It is a world that has not received much widespread attention since Medieval days, when God was posited as the Architect of the Universe, but it is still there. Still here. Even visible, on a good day, to the contemplative eye.
A musician has said: In art, truth and reality begin when you no longer understand anything you do or know, and there remains in you an energy that much stronger for being balanced by opposition, compressed, condensed. Then you must present it with the greatest humility, completely white, pure, candid, your brain seeming empty in the state of a communicant approaching the Lord's Table. -- H. Matisse, 1939
The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity. -- A. Giacometti
“It is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord, and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself.” – Ingmar Bergman
I just came upon an old used copy of a book that I am very excited about. It is by a philosopher named Etienne Glison, a man I have never heard of, but wish I had discovered him years ago. He not only seems to see paintings in a way that it seems art critics never do, but he expresses an appreciation of still life paintings that is very rare indeed. He says that, because painting is, by its very nature, a still object, the most natural subject matter for it is objects that are still. He says, “…this is indeed a genre in which painting reveals its very essence and reaches one of its points of perfection.” (p.26) I couldn’t agree more!
These (geometric) relationships are fundamental to, basically, the structure of our consciousness. This is not something that we invented, this is something that we discovered. It’s intrinsic within the fabric of nature itself. And the proportions that we find that govern nature are also the proportions that govern our consciousness. And so, in effect, what Plato understood, and what everybody I think understood about it, that studied Sacred Geometry was, that in effect, it was a way of developing your consciousness as well.
-- Randall Carlson
A great deal can be overlooked and largely dismissed by not allowing oneself to look with a healthy distance from one's own fixed perspective. In this increasingly accelerated, disconnected world of often vapid and disposable content, which permeates, hijacks, and contaminates our every move, one needs to be still. To feel and look around inside one's own stillness.
-- Lawrence Carroll
“Art is faith. People preach of faith who have no idea what faith is. But artists know… The life of the artist is pure, pure faith.” -- Garrison Keillor
When Henri Matisse famously observed in the early 20th century, "Exactitude is not truth," he was addressing the issue of academic art such as that of James Tissot, Jean-Léon Gérôme, painters from the end of the 19th century, both now largely forgotten. He was not thinking about Geometric Design. Geometry is generally considered to be more truthful when it is more exact. I have no argument with that notion as it is engaged in architecture and decorative design, but in the last few years I've been engaged with questions of geometry in painting. Might Geometry be embraced as a structural element in paintings where its inherent exactitude is subsumed and brought into play on behalf of other, perhaps more expressive, goals?
I am an artist. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.