Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Painting ... poetry

Lena Levin. "Where is this sea? --you will ask", 16"x20". Oil on canvas.
Where is this sea? -- you will ask. 16"x20" (40.6 x 50.8 cm). Oil on canvas. June 2012.
If you have followed my work for a while, you certainly know that I love painting poems – going to the undiscovered country where all art forms are one, and searching for the painting counterpart of a poem there, and, hopefully, coming back with a painting. If there is a paradise, I believe, it's there, in this undiscovered country.

I learn from poets their rhythms, their ability to merge the music of language and the imagery invoked, their compositional structures. It is intimately related, in my mind, to a painter's greatest challenge – that is, to harmonize the abstract structure of a painting and its "representational" content, so that they act together to touch the viewers' conscious minds, on the one hand, and their emotions and senses, on the other (something the abstractionism doesn't have to deal with, circumventing, as it does, the consciousness, the "rational" boundaries the viewers might build around themselves to protect themselves from unwanted influences). 

The landscape above is a painting of a poem, or rather, a song, by a Russian poet Novella Matveeva. This song, "Traces", invokes an image of "a youthful, green bay, neither a wrinkle nor a hint of grayness". No one knows, except the poet (and maybe not even she) where this mysterious place, with lots of other wonderful things, rhythms, and people, exists. I believe it might be that same place where all art forms are one; the land that I keep finding and losing my way to. Since this is a song, not just a poem, its recording by the author, with her uniquely child-like voice, might have a more universal appeal than just words, so here is a link to it  (just hit the "Play" button on the gray bar).

I know that she was there, in this land, and left her traces there, because she was the one who gave me the first hint that this land exists, many, many years ago, via her large poem, "Peter Bruegel the Elder", where she says: 


...but always (line after line), invariably (page after page), I will remain a star-crossed pupil of Peter Bruegel.  

The image of a poet studying with a painter, and a painter from a time long past to add to the mystery of the process, has remained with me all these years, and, I believe, might have been the first seed of the idea that a painter can learn from poets, as I do now.  





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