Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Artful Garden

The Sacred with a Human Face (work in progress)
Soph Laugh
Acrylic on Canvas

The garden of the artist, with the painters pigments, brings to light, as Milan Kundera puts it, "hitherto latent forms of existence'. Observing creation from within, so to speak, a kind of transmutation through which a joie de vivre, an exultation of spirit arises. The feelings evoked during the creative process are most private - par excellence - and become the ultimate foundation of the artist's vision for the artwork which, consciously or unconsciously, they are creating. It is in this process that an artist recognizes themselves. 

In the picture of the 'work in progress' painting above, the paint above the spot where the woman's eye will go appears to have dripped. The same goes for the paint above the mouth. For the artist, viewing art is not limited to a visual engagement with a finished piece; it involves the interrelations of a variety of senses. Dozens of narratives take place as the painting takes its form. Understanding art is not merely understanding what is seen - the final product - it is reading the experience as a multitude of possibilities that correspond to a process; the process is the art. 

As for philosophy, it comes on the scene belatedly: we cannot think of the experience before it has manifested itself. This is the meaning of art. Minerva's owl takes it flight only at nightfall. 

The processes involved in painting give us a more subtle appreciation of our relationship to art, founded on experience. Experiencing art becomes our guiding value, finishing a piece of art a liberation into the many fruitful dimensions of existence. The artist lives their art as the art itself is created. As with life, art is constantly becoming, ceasing, perhaps, to be art once it becomes. 

Art is more than an aesthetic relation to the world. It provides the artist a more personal experience of meaning, which engenders a new understanding of the sacred, what one might call 'the sacred with a human face'. The question is then that of knowing how the experience of art contributes to our understanding of it. 


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