Discussion re May 7th Session

Lots of ideas formulating but it seems perhaps from an alchemical standpoint that may get in the way...

Harry and I walked around the Art Gallery of Ontario today visiting with the work of Basquiat who had this to say, "The more I paint, the more I like everything." Zing...last night's session, and talk of blue as a paint and blue as a natural colour. 

Question: isn't art an abstraction? As much as we love the work of Cezanne, or Chagall, or Kandinsky isn't using the blue paint an abstraction from the sensual blue in nature? I understand writing to be the least sensual of all arts and therefore arguably the most difficult because no sense is directly accessed but only through the door of imagination does a reader recreate a sensual world. Painting uses a physical medium to describe a physical world but is yet an abstraction from that world.

More Basquiat, "I don't think about art when I'm working. I try to think about life." Again, sounds alchemical to me.

He was a heroin addict, quite mad, and insightful, gifted, profound at once.

His dear friend Andy Warhol leaves me behind. Warhol's surface treatment of everything is just too deep for me.

Bye for now...


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  • "I understand writing to be the least sensual of all arts and therefore arguably the most difficult because no sense is directly accessed..."

    Is there anything that is directly accessed? Isn't everything a product of our psyche? Is the experience of a man or woman who we physically make love to more direct than the masculine or feminine that we experience in a dream for example? Each and every experience is a product of the psyche and each and every experience constantly changes.

  • What's blue to a blind person?

    When I read a poem I hear the words in my head. How do deaf people experience a poem? Do they feel their hands making the signs in sign language or their lips and mouths molding themselves to form the words they can speak but can't hear? How does a deaf person experience a sonnet? Rhymed couplets? Iambic pentameter? When you say that no sense is directly accessed with writing, I think of the Spanish word for honey -- miel -- and how it makes you press your lips together and go "Mmmmmm" to say it, and how it ends with the tip of your tongue tapping the roof of your mouth: a reminder at that last musical note (to me miel is a very musical word) that you're speaking of something sweet. Maybe it's because we hear words that we take their sensuality for granted.

    And I don't think art is abstraction any more than anything else in nature.
    • Art doesn't parallel nature. Art is its own thing IN nature and it's just as much a part of nature as a spider web or honeycomb. When you create a painting of a mountain you're not creating an abstraction of the mountain, you're creating a painting. And just because it resembles the mountain or even *a* mountain to you doesn't mean everyone will agree.

      And writing IS sensual. If you can see your eyes are scanning symbols, spaces, and line breaks. If you're blind you're feeling patterns in the paper or hearing a voice read the words to you. These are physical sensations.
    • I suspect we don't agree on many of the points you raise. Clearly for you art is of itself and rises from nature as naturally as you say a honey comb. For me, art rises only (so far as we know) from humans, the idea of art rises only (so far as we know) in the human being, and for me art is a product of human beings that abstracts or is an abstraction of nature. 

      Love the idea of elegant and beautiful parking lot design...never considered this but it is provocative. And again, from my side writing is the least sensual of all the arts, dicing atoms aside...

      thanks for the talk!

    • If the challenges you describe are from birth it's probably different than say Beethovan. The Spanish word for honey you describe so beautifully relates to speech, not writing. Speech is definitely sensual! and therefore not abstract. 

      If you think in terms of art being no "...more an abstraction than anything else in nature" good. It means you think what comes from humans, what we create remains within the parameter of our original source, or our nature. 

      I am wondering about bridges, scaffolding, cement sidewalks...nature? They come from us too. 

    • If you've never had hearing how would you know you're "challenged?" Would the idea of sound have any meaning to you? Maybe there's an alien species out there that would look at me and consider me to be "challenged," but am I? I have no concept of what they say I'm lacking, and no way of experiencing even some semblance of it. If they shook their heads and told me "You're so challenged" my reaction would be "I'm not." We just experience the world differently.

      Yes, bridges, cement, even formaldehyde (yes, formaldehyde!) are part of nature, because they come from us. Are they "natural?" No, but I'd argue that neither is honey (I would love for Bonnie to jump in and either agree or disagree with me here). Are they necessarily "good?" No. They can cause harm and humans are guilty of serious overgrowth and environmental harm (like kudzu). But I do think the things we do -- all the things we do -- are part of nature.

      Side note: a civil engineer once told me that the most beautiful things he had ever seen were well-designed parking lots. Parking lots. I laughed, but he was serious. He described parking lots that optimize the flow of cars in and out, that maximize the use of space while allowing for mobility across the lot, that protect the vehicles and minimize the impact on the surrounding area (think of Florida and its endless parking lots and how it makes the state ugly, and how we can avoid that), as beautiful, elegant things. I never looked at parking lots the same way again. Could a "beautiful" parking lot be considered art, or at least an example of beauty in functional design? I'd like to believe yes.
    • Cezanne found he cannot recrecreate nature but he can parallel it.

      Jung discovered he can't peek into mind, but he can project into the depth of psyche..

      Kandinsky discovered he can't render spirituality on canvas, but he can mix his line, planes and colors to get his feelings across the best he could..

      None of these discoveries were abstractions. They comprise the life as we live today.

    • I love the idea of paralleling nature. Very much what I mean by abstracting. Not possible to BE it, but only to 

      reproduce or parallel what our senses bring to us. Thanks for this!

  • Hi All: After last Thursday evening's final class I just want to send a thank you to Pat for clarifying that notion I had about art and abstraction. In a few sentences you cleared up the knot I had: habitual consciousness gets hopefully knocked about through art, loosening it up so other possibilities may arise. A bad paraphrasing but I feel more clear and am grateful. 

    Also a general thank you to both of you Pat and Robert for being so willing to be open, human, humorous, intense, and to reveal so much about yourselves, about each other and about your relationship. I find the whole extremely valuable and look forward to the next semester! 

  • You touched areas that continue to interest me as a painter/writer and alchemy enthusiast.

    Here are some of my thoughts. First, abstraction is the front door to expression of ideas, and a backdoor to senses/intuition/feelings and above all the door of imagination. The only reason we are questioning abstraction is because we suffer the disease no thanks to Descartes. Though I don't want to complain too loud because the comfort of technology we enjoy (my ability to engage you in discussion on Internet) we owe to technology, and yes, we are paying prices for it as we watch the machines with their abstruse algorithms taking over slowly pulling the rug under us.

    Now I don't want to digress. Art is the combo of spirit/soul/body just like the ancient alchemist felt their art of alchemy was. At any point the spirit (intellect, abstraction if you will) can way heavily in the mix but it is squeezed out. 

    Artists (poet/painters/writer/etc.) find destructive and constructive ways to get around the problem and get in touch with the primary field. Basquiart choice as addition and unleashing the madness, Pollock alcohol and women, Picasso painted fast to bypass abstract thought. But the fact remains art is expansive enough to leave room for abstraction as well as nature.

    The blue pigment has the sacred status of the blue air. Cad red light, the heat of the fire, Hansa yellow is the air, and arrays of blues ultramarine blue (among many) the water, and finally Light Green the mother earth. You see the 4 elements are present alive and active for the painter just like the alchemist. The same goes for logos: words/ and ideas. They all serve as prima materia for the soul and matter to converge.


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