Monday, October 3, 2011

Drawing like a thoughtful prayer

At the beginning let us state some obvious truths and keep them in mind as if holding a light as we traverse a
confusing refuse dump at night. When someone decided to draw a tree in front of him he would see that this
complex object consist of parts: roots, trunk and a branching limbs forming a crown of foliage. It is [not
“seems” but is] right to reflect that in the drawing. As the drawing progresses more observable elements are
 drawn. The form of each limb grows out of the trunk in such way that there is a thickening at its base and
that should be noted in the picture. Drawing which ignores it betrays disregard of what was clearly in view.
What would be a reason for this disregard? Inattentiveness for one and unwillingness to accept that in
drawing a tree morphologic truth of facts given in view are absolutely obliging. Once we peer down the
 darkness of that refusal nothing commendable sits there. The truth of what the eyes observed is almost
instantly disregarded for one of available “styles” replacing further observations with arbitrary, lame     oversimplifications, cheap decorative stylizations.

                                                                      Piet Mondrian

This is most significant point: when artist makes the decision to turn away from reality and reaches for stylistic
 devices. Somehow the miraculous, infinitely complex mystery of reality was judged here to be insufficient,
spent and lacking newness. That point has to be pounded and pounded again because it is like a pivotal shaft
on which the whole circus-tent of modern art is hinged. After the whole history of observing reality and
depicting it with passionate enamoration a small horde of amateurish barbarians defeated our arts and pitched
 their tawdry tent of modern gimmicks.”Anything but Reality” is the essential guiding slogan of modern art. It
invites everybody who does not know how to draw, has no patience to learn it and is ready to start smearing
and gluing and “collaging” and “having fun”. But the quality of the “fun” is low, no more than child’s satisfaction
at chess where it is agreed he always wins. No matter how silly the elements of the art-piece how are we to
judge it to be trash or masterwork of genius?
Below is a small sample of drawings and engravings showing trees seen with loving eyes, with dedication to
 the truth that traces the unfathomable wisdom which governs their triumphal being.

                                                                       Lucas van Leyden

                                                                    Albrecht Durer

                                                                          Henry Wallis

                                                                    Frederick Leighton

                                                                     Rex Vicat Cole

And a hundred years after Cole drew the tree above we have this most astonishing portrait of live Oak ,called
"Angel Oak" by North Carolina artist Jean LeCluyse.

                                                                          Jean LeCluyse [click the image for an enlargement]


  1. I hugely enjoy your blog; keep it live for as long as you are able to!
    Too much credence has been given to abstract/modern art which resulted in its elevation to something that it does not deserve to be. Modern art is too often monstrous, weak and vacuous.
    A crticial look at all those modern creative endeavours is crucial if we are to survive
    as culturally viable beings.

  2. Thank you,Anonymous.Yes- we need voices pointing out that the Emperor has not a stitch of clothes on and in fact is showing how insufficient,puny his endowments are.Just imagine what would Rembrandt say if we would show him painting by Lichtenstein as an example of one of the famous works of XX century art?

  3. Your writing has changed the way I view art. The illustrations chosen for this piece so beautifully illustrate your point. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Henryk. Your ideas and talent enrich our lives. Estel

  4. “This drawing betrays disregard of what was clearly in view. What would be a reason for this disregard?”

    Great points yet I disagree. From my view and my studies? Art is not born of logic and reason but of feeling. Okay, we all know that. Indeed Rembrandt, another Dutch painter but the master of Realism (17th century Baroque and Rococo era), is probably would not appreciate this 20th century Dutch painter Mondrian’s abstract purity. Two different styles… centuries apart… Time changes art as it does nature…but I digress.

    “The Gray Tree” is a surrealistic portrayal of life and death! No way realistic, it's abstract and surrealistic. In fact, with my first view, I see a dramatic and war torn stained glass window. THEN, I see the tree, for it is indeed buried deep within. It is certainly not in clear view, not in the Realism of Rembrandt; however certainly not in disregarded, painted beneath the view.

    We each appreciate different art forms, in all art forms, visual art as well as poetry… And this painting in my view is an atmospheric portrayal with fragile delicacy that is precious and rare. And in my mind, I adore anything unique!And, Mondian sought utmost probriety, taking art to its purest form,,,, beneath the very obvious surface that is seen by all. In my imagination, I see this tree drowning over the laps of a grey sea. The strokes are dense and bold and add to this tempestuous drama. From what I have studied, Mondrian aims to disregard all that pleases the narrow self, the initial sight, the myopia that we often carry on the surface and enter deeper, in an alpha dreamlike state of divine simplicities, buried and drawn deep within the surface. His uniqueness is utter brilliance. Mind you, I love Rembrandt too. But I am drawn to art that is introspective and cryptic, abstract and surreal, which apart from giving you an eye sparkling vision of a real tree in a glorious surround (like masterful Rembrandt), this does the inverse. It tells of a saga that the tree represents. We all know that art is subjective… Thanks for this commentary… but there is a true following for this kind of art… and I follow it as well. Thanks again for sharing! Magdalena Capurso, art representative for international portraitist and sculptor Kenneth Hari

  5. The style of the Mondrian painting of the tree is cubism, not surrealism."Surreal and abstract"- you write: there is no such beast:it is either-or.An image is either abstract or is representational and all surreal paintings are representational.No exceptions-it comes from the definition and from the second principle of logic.Beyond that- I see no pleasure or satisfaction in convincing you of anything.Should I run after people in Ohio who saw face of Madonna in the swirls of marinara sauce on pizza and try to convince them it was not a miracle but only some basil,oregano and pepperoni?Let them be!