Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stories in painting IV: a path to synthesis

Still life with Letters of Vincent Van Gogh. 30"x20". Oil on linen. In-progress.
This post completes my little story of stories in painting, begun as my answer to +Alexander M Zoltai's question (here are the previous posts of this small series: 123). But it's really not a completion, but rather a new beginning. 

In my previous posts, I've tried to pinpoint (what I feel as) two major underlying forces behind painting's divorce from stories: the overwhelming angst brought about by human-made catastrophes of the last century, and the increasing (and, arguably, misleading) role endless stories play in our inner lives. My intuition is that, at some level, this split is but another manifestation of other, probably more generally conspicuous, splits in the life of humankind: between rationality and intuition, conscious and unconscious, science and religion.     

I feel that the time is ripe for synthesis, and that's my dream and my credo: I am in search for a painter's path to this synthesis, and my beacon on this quest is poetry. Not quite "stories", since a poet engages language at another level; and yet, not quite the dog-like absence of stories either. 

I am not at all sure where this path will lead me, so there will be no final answer to your question. Just this preliminary illustration (above) of the step I am currently on, a work-in-progress called "Still life with Letters of Vincent Van Gogh". Apart from reference to Van Gogh, it also has a poem linked to it, by Osip Mandelstam, or rather one quatrain of it:

For the thundering valour of ages to come,
For humanity's noble tribe,
I have lost my cup at ancestors' table,
And my honor, and all my joy.

Can I tell you how this painting embodies this poem? Not really, as it is a fundamentally non-linguistic link: the words and rhythms are in the poem, the colors and lines are in the painting; and the more universal counterparts (which are neither) defy linguistic expression. And still: there is this gesture of relinquishing color (lost in black and white on the right and in the lower part of the painting), a painter's ultimate sacrifice; and this struggle between downward and upward movements (yet to be strengthened in further work); and, of course, a nearly "lost" black cup.   

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