Saturday, 19 September 2009


Saturday morning, and I've discovered a new word for myself. A dictionary defines it as a theory or story of the origin and development of the universe, the solar system, or the earth-moon system. One French site gives a comprehensive review of the primary concerns at cosmogonie. I'd never seen cosmogony connected with art until this morning, when I came across an article about Yves Klein. I'd never heard of him and immediately went hunting after more information. Interesting, how a modern concept in art links up to ancient concepts - such as cosmogony, which was all the rage in ancient Egypt and Mesapotamia!
One of Yves Klein's "stunts" is to paint naked people and then use them as stencils. A pretty far-fetched idea except that the results are actually quite intriguing. The nearest I ever got to that was using my hand or some kind of plant. I made a few paintings using artificial flowers and acrylic sprays on a contrasting background. They were intriguing but not exactly avant garde and I've reused all the canvases. They actually looked like prints. I expect that's one method used to make prints on dress materials etc. Here's a link to a blogger and her short item on Yves Klein: woolgathersome
The thing about modern art is that you have to be the first to do something new! In the old days, when impressionists started to break down the realist concept which required infinitely detailed, accurate likeness and was totally bound up in conventions, they did not get a good reception. But look what emerged after that! Arguably, there is little point in attempting to make photorealistic paintings when a camera can do it so much better. But realism is back and popular (and sells well). You might need special education to appreciate modern concepts. You need less to appreciate a bowl of flowers. I once gave someone a flower painting after being a house guest. She thanked me with the words "What a good job I can see what it is". I had not given her an abstract because - as I predicted - she would have had no use for it. On the other hand, intellectuals like to go for paintings they need to work at. A friend in the UK wanted an abstract of mine so I sent it to her - for old times' sake. It had been painted on a day when I had absolutely no ideas and I called it "space control" because that was about all I had managed to do with the 90 by 90 (cms) square of linen on my easel. Or so I thought. By the time it was in its snazzy gold frame it looked really sensational and completely took over from the other treasures on the walls!

I've never painted anything like it since. It is definitely unique!

Back to Yves Klein. Or rather, modern art. I have a huge collection of images on my PC which probably reflect what's going on in art. Fortunately, the internet can provide content on everything, so I'm well-informed about trends..... But I still go for visually appealing art  - though not necessarily figurative - and have difficulty appreciating paintings that look accidental or unfinished. The questions I ask myself are "Is it accidental?" and "Is it finished", though it's futile to speculate. I suppose modern art is a form of "letting go" on all sides. The accidental element is a kind of back to nature - who can control the elements? When I pour liquid paint on canvas or paper, I am letting it follow its own instincts. In digital photography the same concepts are taken to their zenith (fractals are a good example). Art isn't what it used to be, but that doesn't mean it's less worthy.
The painting below consists mainly of oil paints poured onto a large canvas. I titivated it, but the main work was done by tilting the canvas in various directions and weighting parts of it with stones. I'm going to exhibitit next weekend. I wonder if it will get a good reception?

I called it Song without Words V. It's one of a loose series based on Mendelssohn's musical concept. I'll add a couple more here. They are not related except by title, but were painted on a whim and often had poured liquid paint (= improvisation) as their foundation.

One last thought for this edition. An artist decides when a painting is finished. The criteria on which this decision is based vary from painting to painting. So I have no basis for challenging a painting from that aspect. When I paint, I take on a kind of omnipotence. Perhaps that's what makes making art so fascinating. For one fleeting moment I am in charge!

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