Sunday, February 13, 2011

Intensity of gaze

From the “Art of the Arts” by Anita Albus:
“Painting was able to claim its place as the art of the arts as long as it still encompassed the seven liberal arts within it; as long as the painters, in the contest of the arts, gave their utmost to breathe life into the world. Without their learning, without their counterbalance of morality, a new peacock butterfly can never spread forth its wings from the subverted profession. Look back at painting’s multilayered lepidopterous phase. The Lunar Orbiter sent back its images of our blue star from the immeasurable, lifeless reaches of space. If we had fully grasped this star’s uniqueness, we would look with different eyes at the fly that has finished its morning wash and is strolling over apple-green waxy skin around a globe with a stalk. Perhaps then we might have regained the intensity of gaze that distinguished a Van Eyck,or Rogier van der Weyden,Patinir or Gerard David, Flegel or Goedaert. We should take up from them – not to do the same as they did, but to have a share in the same: in perfect creation, in the imitation according to creation that is the form of our immortality.”
Fragment of “Madonna of Chancellor Rolin” by Jan van Eyck. Somewhere in this painting, at shoals in the distance teenage boys are skipping stones. I only read about it , never came close enough for such close examination, but to know it helps me, as a painter ,as a supplicant in the temple of my profession  to bear the grievous indignities of contemporary art to know they are there, skipping stones and that they will do it endlessly to hold the mental cosmos of our culture intact.