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A Time-Lapse Rocket Ride to the Top of 1 World Trade Center
-- Essay outline by Johnes Ruta, independent curator & art theorist, 1996.
Sublime: philosophical selections by Longinus Edmund Burke, Immanuel
Kant, & Wordsworth
Techniques and Materials of Music
|AZOTH ART BLOG|
Poetry audio & video
"To Juan at the Winter Solstice"
mythos by Robert Graves
from "Helen in Egypt"
by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
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FLIGHT -- a video poem by Lisa Seidenberg, incorporating the poem "Journey Home" by Rabindranath Tagore.
is flight, a videopoem," writes Lisa Seidenberg A.K.A. Miss Muffett.
"Tagores poem is displayed in silent-movie-style intertitles
with footage of the refugee crisis from Hungary, Greece, and Austria over
a soundtrack of Russian choral music an effective, high-contrast
juxtaposition, I thought."
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The term Cosmotheism
was coined by Lamoignon de Malesherbes in his edition of Pliny the Elder's
Natural History to designate the ancient, particularly the Stoic, worship
of the cosmos as Supreme Being. I [Jan Assmann, in his work The Mind of
Egypt,] adopt the term in a somewhat broader sense, one that encompasses
polytheistic religions that worships the cosmos as the collective manifestation
of various different deities. In the religious history of the New Kingdom
[Egypt], cosmotheism materialized in three different forms: traditional
polytheism, revolutionary monotheism (which acknowledged the sun and light
as one sole divinity but also remained within the framework of cosmic
worship), and finally, pantheism, which regarded the supreme god of the
pantheon as the embodiment of all other deities and of the oneness of
JEWELED HIGHWAY" by Ralph White -- a Book Review
Sadly and happily, I am a slow reader. Sadly because this has held me back in certain ways, but happily because it has given me the gifts of deep vicarious experience in slow motion, such as in reading the depth of discoveries and wonders in Ralph White's memoir "The Jeweled Highway." Even at my own pace, this book is a fascinating "page turner." Ralph is the co-founder of the New York Open Center, the most significant holistic learning center in any U.S. city, and since 1983 its Executive Director. Through its overseas Esoteric Quest conferences and New York lecture series, I've been privileged to know him since 1995.
As he describes in his book, he was a participant in the Findhorn spiritual/ecological learning commune in northern Scotland in the 1970s, and the program director of the renown Omega Institute where it had started in Bennington, Vermont. In 1981, he helped build its permanent center from an abandoned Yiddish camp in Rhinebeck, New York.
But, most of all, Ralph White's warm, poignant, and compelling narrative of his life story qualifies him as a true Humanist. From his early childhood in Wales his family moved for work to the coal-dust covered English mill town of Huddersfield, a place of tedium and hopelessness, devoid of any of the color of life or culture. Through academic achievement, he was able to attend Sussex University in the south of England, where his future began to unfold.
Crossing the U.S. to study in Seattle in the late 1960s, he then hitched with friends to Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, and Peru to bus along treacherous mountain roads and climb to Machu Picchu. With vivid memories and a flowing writing style, White describes the hardships of these dangerous and lonely travels, and long, isolated periods of working to save up the money to escape the places where he'd been marooned on his way back. Eventually back in the U.S., these pioneering and exhausting adventures, and his own intellectual exuberance, gave him the renewed strength and resources to take on the hard work of creating and building up these learning centers which are at the forefront of the Consciousness Movement, providing profound alternative paths and learning experiences to city dwellers of both corporate and modest means. Even then, White's own path led to further and on-going amazing adventures !
For me, Ralph White's memoir has been a quest both along one Humanist's "Jeweled Highway" of life, and a journey to the spiritual richness of the crystal palace of Enlightenment. Great Work, Ralph !
|Posted by AzothGallery at 10/14/2015 8:05 PM | Add Comment|
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Cyra Levinson, Associate Curator of Education, Yale Center for British Art
Romita Ray, Associate Professor of Art History, Syracuse University
Jonathan Holloway, Dean of Yale College, Professor of African-American Studies, Yale university
From: Johnes Ruta, Art Gallery Director of the New Haven Free Public Library, http://AzothGallery.com/
As an art curator and theoretical analyst, I would like to respectfully suggest that the artist of this painting might be John Smybert (Smibert) (1688-1751). I am led to this idea, by a study that I made three years ago on Smybert's painting "The Bermuda Group" which is in the permanent collection of the Yale Art Gallery, depicting the Empiricist philosopher Bishop George Berkeley and his entourage, on the eve of their voyage to Newport in 1729. The stated purpose of their mission was to establish a ministerial training college on the island of Bermuda, a mission ultimately unsuccessful. John Smybert was born in Edinburgh, and worked as a painter and plasterer before coming to London where he studied with Sir John Thornhill. His painting style is similar to Thornhill's but much more distinct in his depiction of faces. This Smybert painting, which I first saw in the 2011 Yale Art Gallery exhibition "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," is now on display in the permanent collection in the 2nd floor rear room of the new Street Hall section of the Yale Gallery.
On first seeing this "Bermuda Group" painting, my interest was invoked as an example of a peculiar branch of the 18th century philosophical movement Empiricism as taught by George Berkeley, whose outlook, as stated in his 1709 "A New Theory of Vision," was seen by many of his contemporaries, even such as Dr. Samuel Johnson, as a concept tantamount to solipsism. However, in the light of modern medical technology, CT Scans, and MRIs, we may consider that Berkeley was onto something closer to a modern physiological understanding of brain function.
My research essay on aspects Berkeley's brand of of Empiricism, and his intended application towards colonial psychology, as suggested in Smybert's painting, is attached [included below on this blog, ed.].
The date of circa
1708 is attributed to the "Elihu Yale..." group painting, at
which time Smybert would have been 20 years old. according to Richard
H. Saunders' thesis on John Smibert, the artist came from Scotland to
London in 1709:
In the "Bermuda Group" piece as in the "Elihu Yale," the same palette of vivid colors is applied, the positions, settings, and strong focus of faces are highly similar, and the sanguine painting tones of complexions are in the same palette. Both paintings are of similar large scale. The constellation of figures follows the same conceptual pattern. Most notably, compared to other painters of the time, the treatment of background motifs are uniquely similar, in the YBAC painting, with dark, indistinct trees on the left. In the background center of the YBAC painting stands the base of a large column, whereas, in the Bermuda painting the background stand a widely-spaced columnade. On the right, are more lightened, medium-brown trees with detailed limbs and branches, with closely matched yellow-green foliage, and a circle of children with joined hands. Both paintings share a high degree of suggestion of aspects of individual personalities of each figure. --- There is certainly also the possibility that John Smybert saw the "Elihu Yale" painting, and thereby followed its style. Following the failure of Berkeley's Bermuda project, Smybert settled in Boston, where his portrait work became successful.
|Unknown artist: Elihu Yale; William Cavendish, Second Duke
of Devonshire; Lord James Cavendish; Mr. Tunstal, and an Enslaved Servant
|John Smibert "The Bermuda Group: the Berkeley Entourage," 1728-29. Yale Art Gallery permanent collection.|
I would very much be interested in your opinions of these observations. Thank you!
Respectfully submitted for your interest,
Smybert -- partial extract from Wikipedia
Smibert began drawing while apprenticed as a painter and plasterer, on moving to London he worked as a painter of coach carriages and a copyist.He studied under Sir James Thornhill at his academy, then travelled to Edinburgh and Europe seeking work as portraitist. He gained a reputation for his works copying old masters and receiving commissions for portraits in Italy and returned to England to capitalise on this.
Smibert painted a group portrait of the 'Virtuosi of London' society, of which he was a member; others in the group were John Wootton, Thomas Gibson, George Vertue, Bernard Lens, and other artists. He did not complete the painting, but did produce portraits in London up to September 1728, including one of Bishop Berkeley.
In 1728 he accompanied Berkeley to America, with the intention of becoming professor of fine arts in the college which Berkeley was planning to found in Bermuda. The college, however, was never established, and Smybert settled in Boston, where he married in 1730. He lived at the corner of Brattle Street and Queen-Street. He belonged to the Scots Charitable Society of Boston.
In 1728 he began painting "Dean George Berkeley and His Family," also called "The Bermuda group", now in the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale University, a group of eight figures; it is maintained that the person farthest to the left is actually the artist himself. He painted portraits of Jonathan Edwards and Judge Edmund Quincy (in the Boston Art Museum), Mrs Smybert, Peter Faneuil and Governor John Endecott (in the Massachusetts Historical Society), John Lovell (Memorial Hall, Harvard University), and probably one of Sir William Pepperrell; and examples of his works are owned by Harvard and Yale Universities, by Bowdoin College, by the Massachusetts Historical Society, and by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society.
In 1734, Smibert opened a shop where he sold paint, other artist's supplies, and prints. In his studio above the shop, he displayed casts and copies of Old Masters that he had painted in Europe. This collection, which Richard Saunders has termed "America's first art gallery", provided much of the early artistic education for Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and John Trumbull.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 12/15/2014 5:11 PM | Add Comment|
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contributed by Jenni Farnsworth
It is an obvious and fundamental fact that artistic expression is both a form of personal freedom as well as being a challenge to (and weapon against) the kyriarchy and its numerous manifestations worldwide. Art is inherently subversive and uncontrollable; Audre Lorde wrote that the masters tools will never dismantle the masters house, and art is, of course, one of the tools with the power to both dismantle the old and construct something new. In the shadow of the 100th anniversary of the first world war, it is fascinating to examine the ways in which soldiers - themselves victims of the politicians who valued profiteering and antiquated colonial worldviews over human lives - used art to describe and grapple with the horrors they witnessed. Post-traumatic stress disorder was many wars away from being recognized, and so artists - particularly writers - strove to return a sense of individual lives to the massive, faceless numbers of the dead and dying.
All a poet can do today is warn. - Wilfred Owen
Today they are called the war poets (1), those young men who were brought to the trenches to die and who instead left proof that they had lived. Some - including Wilfred Owen - did fall beneath the weight of historys careless cruelty, while others survived to write about their experiences with what would one day be called post traumatic stress disorder (2). Although it is a step forward to recognize the very real trauma experienced by soldiers, to go beyond dismissing it as shell shock, there is also the danger of reducing it to a simple problem to be treated and dismissed. Hypervigilance, feeling of detachment, outbursts of anger, and harrowing flashbacks; these are the symptoms of PTSD (3), while also being a very human reaction to the wounding of the self which occurs when we observe, or commit, atrocities. Siegfried Sassoon, whose own life was a fascinating meeting of privilege and lack thereof, became an avowed pacifist in fierce opposition to the jingoistic, nationalistic sentiments which sent out the barely grown to slaughter other children in the name of peace (4). His poetry and prose rings out with the continual aftershocks of the wars horror, as well as the empty promises of glory which were fed to young men with no idea of what they would witness:
quiet and peaceful, summering safe at home;
Supported by pacifists such as Bertrand Russell, Sassoons Finished with the War: A Soldiers Declaration was read out in the British House of Commons and published in the London Times (6), a brave and fierce act of speaking truth to power. For refusing to bow to the war of aggression and conquest, Sassoon risked his very life; having survived his time in the trenches, his life still laid in the hands of politicians, who may very well have sentenced him to military execution. The forerunner of PTSD (7), shell shock, was instead blamed for his outrage - as shell shock was a politically motivated diagnosis (8), this subversion of its intended use stands as an attack of its own against the powers that be. Sassoon was forced into treatment for his war neurosis, where he met Wilfred Owen, also suffering under the weight of his experiences. Both returned to the frontlines out of a sense of duty to their fellow soldiers, who suffered under the yoke of regimes both understood to be self-serving liars. Sassoon returned from the war; Owen did not, and died at the age of 25 (9).
If you could
hear, at every jolt, the blood
2. The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, Penguin, last accessed May 28 2014
3. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), PsychGuides.com, last accessed May 28 2014
4. Siegfried Sassoon, The First World War Digital Poetry Archives, last accessed May 28 2014
5. Fateful Memories: Industrialized War and Traumatic Neuroses, Journal of Contemporary History, last accessed May 28 2014
6. Form and Uses of Language, the Open University, last accessed May 28 2014
7. PTSD History and Overview, National Center for PTSD, last accessed May 28 2014
8. Broken Men: Shell Shock, Treatment and Recovery in Britain 19141930, Oxford Journals, last accessed May 29 2014
Wilfred Owen, Shropshire Tourism, last accessed May 29
|~ contributed by Jenni Farnsworth May 30, 2014|
|Posted by AzothGallery at 5/30/2014 10:11 AM | Add Comment|
This Pretty Poetics
by Maxwell Clark
"Have you practis'd
so long to learn to read?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems[...]"
--Walt Whitman, 'Song of Myself'
Poesy is the doing
of anything. Poesy is there in the poet who works out any poem. A poem
is any product of any behaviors whatsoever. Each of us who do things are
poets. Each of us poets are the unacknowledged legislators of our common
world. Each of us is also dependent on the poesy of the other poets going
beyond us, as if we ever were alone, for each of us to be most fully beautiful.
Beauty is the excess of light over from within gravity, or an excess of
what is over and apart itself, i.e. desire. Poesy affirms desires, in
whose faith is their creation.
either hide away or show forth their own faces of light across from the
gravity of the poet’s subjectivity. A poet subject to the gravity
of themselves alone is no poet. Only their inspiration by the light of
the presence of their others secures poets as poets.
Others either face
the poet in the beautifying light of their poesy or they turn away. The
more others turn their light from the poet the less each and every one
of these poets is beautiful. The poesy of a poet is the facing of others
towards, into, through, and then beyond the herein absolutely passive
presence of the poet. Poesy is the facing of the other’s light through
a thus beautified receptacle of a poet and their attendantly generated
poems. Others face a poet’s poem as themselves gone beyond themselves
through this poet, as an aspect of the ensemble of others (also poets)
facing their light through this poet.
Light is the poesy which gravity compacts into poems. The poet is an enclosure of gravity suffused with too much light. A poet is already a poem. A poem is already a poet. Poets and poems are local accretions of the cosmic metabolism of light and gravity. .......
A poet is a gravitational
density more or less porous with light. The poem, as the poet, materializes
in how light ever disarrays gravity’s inertia. As was the poet,
so is their poem. Poesy is the interminable proliferation of light within
The poet is the poem
is the light of poesy overcoming gravity from within. There is not any
way to predict any future forms taken by the catalyzation of gravity by
light. Nor is there any method for securing the least regularity in poetic
outcome on this cosmic register of poetic formation. Future poets and
their poems will take hold as formed only out of the chaotic generativity
of gravity and light, any otherwise more telling details are futile to
A poet, as their poem,
is a face that conveys more or less of the light of many otherwise faces.
Poesy is not in the gravitational attraction of a poet or poem on others,
it is in how the light of others’ faces somehow shows through the
self-enclosing gravity of a poet or a poem.
Poesy is light weighed
down by gravity. Poets and poems are local mixtures of gravity with light.
Poesy is never the doing of one poet alone; poesy is the facing of an
otherwise light in, through, and beyond the poet, until gravity reclaims
this inspiration as a discretely compacted poem.
Gravity slows the
poesy of light into poets and poems. Poets and poems are torpors of light.
Light has no poesy, produces neither poets nor poems, minus its reciprocal
presence within its antitype of gravity.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 5/20/2014 5:40 PM | Add Comment|
|My Paintings by Maxwell Clark|
I paint, or paint well, it is as though I neither think about the painting,
nor much of anything else, almost at all. I often just kind of unknowingly
witness my greatest works coming together before me.
These habitually grace-like suspensions of my own consciousness I experience while painting do not signal the absence of cognitive work from my compositional process. My paintings are nowise unthinking, only preconscious in their logical element or guidance.
It is almost miraculous: when painting, I find myself very significantly relieved of all but the least flickerings of consciousness in my waking life, thus also all of its intentionalities, symbolisms, imaginations, fantasies, delusions, etc.
However I feel, or am, I most directly and immediately express. I have somehow habituated myself to express my affective conditions on canvas prior to or minus any aesthetic ideologies.
Other, more cortex-mediated paths of abstract thinking and aesthetic method lack the candor and vitality of my ability to follow my more direct, decentralized, and unspecialized nervous excitations.
Defining sets of aesthetic laws for painting, or incorporating consciousness into aesthetic composition, is very often a futile exercise, verging sometimes even on a serious impediment to the fullest creative growth of painters.
This guidance of my nerves, or my obedience to my most immediate perceptions of sense, these are my general observations of myself as a painter alone, they are not present in my mind while I compose my works.
And my promotion of my nervous instincts over my more normative cognitive systems, this abnormality of my artistry is also an emblem of my wider societal abnormality.
I never intend to do anything when I paint, but perhaps it will, just as such, allow me to escape the brutal mediocrity of normative societies, as also avoid any further psychiatric hospitalizations.
Painting is a world wherein I am more allowed to be abnormal, in my special sense of sensuous hypnosis as perhaps in others.
~ by Maxwell Clark Sept. 2013
|Posted by AzothGallery at 10/7/2013 11:41 AM | Submit Comment|
|Research on Mercury and Sulphur by Gobind Kapoor|
Naushadar which is Ammonium
Chloride is found on earth in solid form, which is used for various purposes
for curing certain diseases like chronic hepatic congestion, oedema and
various other diseases, but it is used in solid, or it is mixed with some
solution.I have done deep research on it and I have
prepared a oil of it which is yellowish,dark red and white in colour. It
is only oil of Ammonium Chloride at room temperature. It is prepared with
some rear herbs. When this oil is put on any metal like iron, lead, copper
it converts that metal into its ash after heating with it for sometime I
have read in old granthas that if its oil is prepared it can be used to
cure diseases which are incurable like Aasthma, cancer etc.
Sulphur is a chemical which is also called Amlasar Gandakh, is yellowish in colour and is solid at room temperature. In scientific language it cannot be liquid at room temperature but after doing a lot of work on it I have prepared liquid pure sulphur or oil of sulphur which is dark yellow and orange yellow in colour, but it is not sulphuric acid it is only permanent liquid sulphur at room temperature. It is liquid pure sulphur without reacting it with any chemical. I have read in old granthas it is used to cure leprosy and other disease.
I have prepared pure liquid Sulphur or oil of Sulphur, liquid ammonium chloride, white copper, white ash of cinnabar and red oil of cinnabar which is used to cure diseases, but I don’t know where to test it so I want to know that if all these things are effective in curing some incurable diseases where to send it for testing. If anybody interested in this or want to do research in any scientific laboratory or want to test it for use can contact me.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 10/8/2012 11:08 AM | Add Comment|
|The Shades Of Parallel Universes - essay by Nicholas Grossmann|
the law of attraction and thought manifestation …I felt that if you
have the power to manifest anything both positive and negative then basically
you are the creator of your own world which means you are in total control
of your surrounding’s with your thoughts…If this were so then
you can make anything happen to the people who are in your life…Your
thought manifestation effects them as well….For instance your vibes
change your coworker or you vibes can change your significant other…You
are the creator…If our thoughts can manifest anything including the
actions of our individuals in our life then Its fair to say that there are
shades of parallel universes…Each of us has our own shade and the
shade is our own world…For instance let's take you as an individual
and you then have the power to manifest and you are the creator of the world…If
the law of attraction is so then you can manifest a lover or any job…then
you can create your surrounding’s including the people in your life
and their actions…My argument is that we as separate individuals each
have our own universe and in our own separate universe we have the power
to be creators in our own individualized worlds…This is when the shade
comes in…If I have the ability to manifest and effect my friends actions
then it is only fair to say that my friend also has a shade in a parallel
universe that my friend is the creator and can do the same to me and others
in their own world (effect my actions with their thinking)…It may
be fair to say that we are in our own reality and a part of everyone else’s
reality in these shades of parallel worlds.You have your own which is your
world, your coworker has his, your friends all have their own where they
are the creators…Each individual that exist has there own parallel
universe…. So there maybe an infinity of parallel universes and frequencies...
|Posted by AzothGallery at 3/5/2013 8:20 AM | Submit Comment|
art review by Johnes Ruta:
"The Bermuda Group (Dean George Berkeley and His Entourage)"
an 18th century painting by John Smibert
GROUP (DEAN GEORGE BERKELEY AND HIS ENTOURAGE)
Oils on canvas, (begun 1728, completed 1739) 176.5 x 236.2 cm (69 1/2 x 93 in )
by John Smibert, American, born Scotland, 1688 - 1751
Painting on display in the Yale Art Gallery exhibition
"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"
Dean George Berkeley set out from London to found a college in Bermuda "for
the better supplying of churches in our foreign plantations and for converting
the savage Americans to Christianity." Berkeley's friend John Wainwright
commissioned a portrait of the members of the expedition from John Smibert,
a minor Scottish painter whom Berkeley had invited to teach art in the new
college. The painting was begun in London, and was completed after the group
arrived in Newport to wait additional funding for their college. Although
Wainwright did not accompany Berkeley to the New World, Smibert places him
prominently in the foreground. Dean Berkeley stands at the right next to
his infant son Henry, his wife Anne, and her companion Miss Handcock. The
two wigged gentlemen are John James and Richard Dalton, administrators for
the new college. At the far left, looking out at the viewer, stands the
artist himself. When the Bermuda college scheme failed, Smibert, the first
academy-trained painter to work in the American colonies, established a
studio in Boston, where he became the city's most sought-after portraitist,
enjoying a lofty professional reputation. The Bermuda Group would remain
his most ambitious work. As the most sophisticated group portrait painted
in the colonies during the first half of the eighteenth century, it was
a source of inspiration to numerous artists during the succeeding eighty
True Dynamics of Solipsism
essay by Johnes Ruta, AzothGallery.com
a strangely fascinating painting, as George Berkeley is an important figure
in the history of 18th century philosophy. A careful study of the
figures in this painting reveals many curious clues to the sensibility of
a pivotal movement in intellectual history. Here we see Dean George
Berkeley with his family, his sponsor, and teaching administrators as two
wigged gentlemen. In 1729, twenty years after the publication
of his theory of Immaterialism, this group left England, ostensibly to open
a college on the island of Bermuda, for the purpose of training ministers
especially for the churches of the southern colonies of North America. They
first traveled to American and landed at Newport, where Berkeley bought
a plantation while he waited for the promised funding for his school to
arrive. Bishop George Berkeley, consecrated in 1724, was a modern figure
in the philosophical movement called “Empiricism,” a system
that in the Western world originated with Epicurus in ancient Athens, who
maintained that the senses, rather than reason, were the only sources of
knowledge. This principle was perpetuated by Berkeley’s philosophical
predecessors Thales, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, and Leibniz. In terms
of the categories of idealism and materialism, the concept of “Immaterialism”
argued by Berkeley has been variously misunderstood and quite often mocked
as absurd, ego-centric, and irrational. But where it borders solipsism,
and has generated seemingly conflicting interpretations, it needs deeper
understanding, and deeper analysis.
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own
mind is sure to exist, the epistemo-logical position that knowledge of
anything outside one's own mind is unsure. To better understand Berkeley’s
Immaterialism, we should compare it to the principles of solipsism, which
are divided into defined into three levels: 1. Egotism, that is, the isolation
or self-perceived supremacy of the individual personality; 2. Metaphysical,
encompassing the questions of philosophy regarding individual perspective
and relationships; and 3. Epistemological, in the study historical
development of the field of knowledge, in this case of the juxtaposition
of matter and perception.
do give some interesting clues to the interpersonal
dynamics found in “The Bermuda Group” more difficult to analyze.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 1/24/2012 11:49 PM | Add Comment|
Claudine Burns-Smith wrote:
It's amazing how different interpretations of the same painting can be given, and they are not mutually exclusive. Seeing this painting sent you on a historical philosophical interpretation but here is another one, more psychological:
Dean B. and his family form one group. He is lost in his lofty philosophical and religious ideals and does not know what is going on around him. She is down to earth, busy with real life taking care of a child, and not afraid of honestly looking us in the eye. She looks very centered and confident in who she is. Let the others worry about the spiritual world.
Sitting on the left is Wainwright, the fan, taking down every word the great man utters. But he is just a symbolic presence required as an audience for Berkeley.
The two wigged gentlemen and the other woman are interesting characters. The one on the right has his arm possessively resting on the back of the woman's chair, suggesting he might be the husband. The woman is looking at B.'s wife, probably confiding in her, but is pointing at the other guy. What is so special about him? He is looking down at what you might think is the notebook held by Wainwright but could it be he is actually examining the woman's bosom that she is displaying in his direction so prominently. Is he her lover? Do we have a triangle here?
The last character, actually a self-portrait of the artist, is looking angrily straight at us, seeming to tell us we have no business seeing this scene. We are voyeurs witnessing the secret drama of two dysfunctional families.
Of course there is also the artist's interpretation analyzing colors and composition.
Anybody can make up stories about paintings and I had fun doing this
one. I am glad you liked it.
Magdalena Mraz wrote:
All the best in the coming year! It certainly started with the great promise of your interesting essay on painting by John Smibert. I believe that your observations of the personalities in his painting and their "enlightened self-interest" is keen and correct (how many times have I heard this fundamentally contradictory phrase defended in my upper east side Unitarian church?) It reminds me of frequently quoted Thomas Jefferson and his peculiar mixture of idealism and pragmatism; perhaps a term "Immaterialism" would fit his philosophy as well as Berkeley's.
To me, the most interesting
portraits in this painting are those facing the viewer directly. Intelligent
and maternal gaze (with a hint of irony) of Dean's wife seems to belong
to a female who represents a good grounding force for her rotund yet "immaterial"
husband. The child she is holding suggests a possibility of a fresh start
and perhaps an amusement of a future generation viewing the pompous setting.The
most captivating, however, is the very direct, piercing glance of an artist
himself, reminiscent of an insertion of Diego Velazquez into his painting
of the Spanish royal family ('"The Maids of Honor", I think).
He appears to see himself at once as a witness, social critic and a detached,
somewhat elevated observer. Although in the background and almost added
to the picture, he is the one holding the true power, not prominently
placed Berkeley. So I believe Smibert managed to mock all the other males
in the painting, sharing the ground with the mother and the child instead.
Thus he gave himself the best spot and got paid for it too. How is that
for an enlightened self-interest, if not entirely "immaterial"
philosophically in this case. But at least he is the most unpretentious
person in the group. Never under-estimate the power an artist! I am happy
(and envious) you are beginning to practice the power of your art of writing
again, but it helps to increase my own writing urges too.
Nick Grossmann wrote:
Hey bratha!! Hey dude...I've been obsessing about god or higher power..Anyway people never understand that it always existed..so today i pondered and came up with an argument that it always existed and it involves the number zero..i don't know if someone lese has made this up but tell me how you feel about this...
First there was nothing and the mathematical equation for nothing is zero...Zero is just a ghost...Zero is the seed...Now the seed grows into a flower...The seed which is the ghost or just a spirit had a thought and it manifested it into the physical...So then the creation process began as the flower pollinated and created more seeds which spawned into more and more flowers..0 + 1 = 1 spirit + th...ought = creation...So zero could be the most powerful number...Weather you believe in a higher power or not it makes you think that if nothing is the number zero then that could argue if there is a higher power that it always existed ... That zero...the ghost... A spirit manifested its thought to create into a physical manifestation and that spirit was a seed and created the flower of life so you can say zero is the highest and most powerful number...
Johnes Ruta wrote:
Hey, Nick, thank you for your brilliant understanding of the question of Being vs. Nothing! -- Your concept and theory of the ZERO are crucial in this understanding. There are many facets in our relationship to "Reality" as the activity of our presence in Time and Space. ZERO IS the both place-holder of the quantitative universe, AND the bubble of the Void of the cosmos, AND the SEED of the flower of Consciousness. Einstein used the term "World-Line" to describe the ascending path of consciousness over a period or a sequence of moments, translated as points of measured Time over days, years, or centuries. These moments are each a bit of experiential essence. They are also the path of Evolution -- the unfolding of the Flower... To reconcile the principle of Becoming and the principle of Being, I would say that we must allow ourselves the perception of the intense moment-by-moment awareness of the technicolor cosmic energies that surround us -- that Consciousness is "Being," and Being is Consciousness. "Time" is the motion of Fluid energy. Growth and Evolution are the "Becoming."
Valeriu Boborelu wrote:
CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT JOHNES RUTA’S ESSAY CONSIDERATIONS
ABOUT JOHNES RUTA’S ESSAY
“THE BERMUDA GROUP” AND BERKELEY’S
PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPT OF IMMATERIALISM
The idea of writing this essay was inspired by John Smibert’s 1729 painting of “The Bermuda Group,” displayed in the Yale Art Gallery exhibition “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The artist Smibert depicts in a traditional and documentary style a major figure of Eighteenth century philosophy, the David George Berkeley and his entourage – family, sponsor, and teaching administrators. Ruta gives a subtle, aesthetic description of the painting, compositional disposition of personages – dominated by the tall stature of Berkeley. The figures are related to the whole atmosphere of art work, but in the same time each of them seems to have their own mind-inside preoccupation – similar to Berkeley’s concept of Immaterialism that Ruta relates to solipsism.
Berkeley and his group descended from London in 1729 with the main goal to create on the island of Bermuda a college “for better supplying of churches in our foreign plantations” and to convert the people to Christianity.
Inspired by the philosophical ideas of Berkeley, Ruta develops a multi-layered social-spiritual web which represents a dynamic, dramatic relation between Idealism and Materialism, the continuing search of the human mind to define the truth, the reality, and the field of knowledge. He considers Berkeley a preeminent figure in the philosophical movement called Empiricism. This system originated with thinkers like Epicurus (senses: valid source of knowledge), Thales, Aristotle, Descartes (mind perception is superior to the senses), John Locke (experience if essential), or Leibniz.
Ruta shows that “in terms of categories of Idealism and Materialism, the concept of Immaterialism – argued by Berkeley has been variously misunderstood.” and also, when the idea of Immaterialism “became close to solipsism (only one’s own mind is sure to exist), there have been generated conflicting interpretations…” The principles of solipsism can be summarized as: 1. Egotism (isolation of the self), 2. Metaphysical (individual perspective), and 3. Epistemological (history of the field of knowledge.)
Ruta emphasizes that Berkeley, as this “preeminent Western Idealist in the metaphysical sense” sustains that deep distinction between mental states and external things, and, Ruta continues, “Berkeley expressed this with the Latin formula “Esse est percepi” (To be is to be perceived.) , and thereby concludes that “Berkeley’s concept of Immaterialism is carried to its logical extreme “with this view of the world which defines a subjective reality from each person” (a purely subjective uni-verse.)
The philosophical Berkeley sees the whole universe as a manifestation of a supreme deity, the God and “any order humans may see in nature is the landscape of the handwriting of God…”
In the Eighteenth century, the sophisticated term of “Immaterialism” (and solipsism) would be applied only to the privileged classes, superior beings, and the land-owners (“to preserve the social order as the perceived and correct order of the universe.”
In the conclusion of his essay, Ruta says “Subjective Idealism,” as proposed by Berkeley, was surely only a domain of the privileged classes and is still being fought for in the 21st century. There are indeed many problems of our contemporary world: social movements discontent with governments, the struggle of people to find truth, the correct relations between the members of society. Inspired by Ruta’s essay, I would like to present some additional ideas, concepts from some philosophical thinking, religious teachings, and some spiritual thinkers and writers.
* Buddhist School – Vaibhasika
-- Direct Perception and inference are valid conditions.
-- Existence of: * sense perception
* mental direct perception
* yogic direct perception
-- existence of Ultimate and Relative Truths.
* Buddhist School – Sautrantikas
-- existence of Ultimate and Relative Truths.
-- Ultimate Truth: a phenomenon that is able to perform a function.
-- things that exist momentarily.
-- physical sense powers are not valid cognition.
-- mental perception is valid cognition.
-- existence of direct perception: sense, mental, yogic, self-consciousness.
* Buddhist school of Mind only (Cittamatras)
-- the basis of all phenomena is the mind.
-- the appearance of all external objects is similar to dreams; external objects do not exist and they only exist in the mind.
* Buddhist Mahayana school
-- all phenomena are in a continuum of change, and flux movement.
-- all phenomena are depending arising: depend on causes and on conditions.
-- Theory of Emptiness: lack of inherent existence.
-- Selflessness * of beings
* of objects
-- all phenomena are impermanent , except 3 categories: * emptiness
* analytical and non-analytical
-- the existence of the mind of clear light : the most subtle mind, the Buddha nature
-- Bodhicitta : the love, compassion for all beings
-- the Great Beings – Bodhissatvas – take the vows of Bodhicitta – to help all other beings to become liberated from Samsara abd obtain supreme state of Enlightenment.
-- Buddha Sakyamuhti : never think “I, mine, me.”
* Sri Ramana Maharishi -- the essential question: Who am I ?
-- the nature of self : contrary to perceptible experience, not an experience of individuality
but a non-personal, all-inclusive awareness.
* Self = God
-- the self is ever present
-- the silent self is god
* Sri Chinmoy
-- “Man and God are eternally one.”
-- the Creator Source is without beginning and end.
-- the Creator Source is not one being or one person. It is layered multi-dimensional existence.
-- we are one minute particle of the Creator Source.
Divine Creator Creator Energy
O Massive Body of Light-consciousness
Christ-Michael bestowed himself as a human mortal, Jesus of Nazareth to portray the nature of his Paradise Father.
-- Urantia is Planet 606 in the system of Satania, in the constellation of Norlatiadek, in the universe Nebadon, in the super-universe of Orvonton.
-- Michael (Christ) of Nebadon chose among all the planets in his universe for his Seventh Bestowal, as a human mortal, in which he revealed the loving nature of the Universal Father.
-- Urantia is sometimes called “The World of the Cross” because it is the only planet in the 700,000 local universes where a creator son was put to death by his own creatures.
* KRISHNANANDA (“2012 End or beginning.”)
-- “There are ‘Light Beings,’ Astral Masters and a Divine Plan waiting to help us and gift to us higher living facilities and comforts. We have to get ready to receive them. We can qualify by just going back to our original state : the state of love, peace, and truth. Positivise, remove all violence, corruption and aggression.
-- We have to meditate and channel Light a lot to transform. It is actually possible for the transition into the Light Age to be peaceful; and painless.
* Quantum Theory
-- All our thoughts, emotions, and activities are recorded on a subtle level (“Crystal Cave”).
When we are passing away the recordings from the “Crystal Cave” are transferring to the matrix of the Earth (the subtle energetic grid) for the benefit of Humanity.
January 2012, Valeriu Boborelu
|Posted by AzothGallery at 1/22/2012 5:47 PM | Add Comment|
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|The Cosmic Mother Board -- essay by Nick Grossmann|
All of us have met people, places and things in which have made impressions
on our lives…For example a tree branch simply could have made an impression
and triggered a thought which became reality …. I had a dream that
I was looking at a tree and heard a voice saying “that tree has seen
everything”… The littlest word someone says or even as tiny
as the twitch of an individual’s nose can make a giant impact in one’s
existence …. This is because we are all connected…All of us
in the parallel shade are connected…Our psyches are infused together
and attached to what I like to say is a Cosmic Mother Board which you can
call The Universe, god ,or any other power higher then ourselves….People
often say god speaks through us and this is the beauty of The Cosmic Mother
Board and how we are all linked and connected to this power greater then
ourselves …. Let’s say someone goes hiking in the forest and
looks at a leaf and decides to take a job offer….That leaf has played
a big role in this persons thinking and was life changing or someone gives
you advice that is life changing and it can be the littlest thing that changes
your life…This is all connections of the Cosmic Mother Board and how
life works in this theory of reality. … Call these even paths you
can take and have an option too …. If you think negative then you
will get a negative path which is rather dark, and if you think of the positive
then you will attract light and positive people and other life changers
… Good luck on your journey…
|Posted by AzothGallery at 4/16/2013 4:47 PM | Add Comment|
Paul Szemanczky wrote:
Brilliant! I believe it's all energy related through fractal sciences and arts. That same energy is conjoined with us to all the dead, dispersed through the Cosmos. The solar energies make up 98% of all the energies and are engaged in 'conversationing' far beyond our understanding, but it is what we will 'become' upon our deaths. The true motherboard of our conversing energies lies with dark energy and dark matter; which I hold is fugue energies.
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|Existence and reality.... short essay by Nick Grossmann|
|Existence and reality.... reading a book with a magnifing glass... Every time you read another word you move the magnifing glass to another mathamatical reality which is the next word and so forth and so forth until you have a full sentence.. This sentence resembles history... what you can't see does not exist, yet like the magnifing glass reading the one word that is the present, and when you read the next word it is a manifestation of the new reality and present...|
|"Level Five" by Nick Grossmann, acrylic on canvas|
|Posted by AzothGallery at 2/18/2013 11:04 PM | Add Comment|
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Time, Space, and Infinity...The metaphysics of 8.
Theory by artist Nick Grossmann
centuries the symbol for the Number eight "8" was a metaphysical
symbol for infinity.... I was recently surfing the cosmic wave when another
notion has come to me, this time about the number 8......First let us go
back to the 3 and lets say like before the points on the three resembled
the upper world,the present, and the lower....I had a mystical cosmic relization
when chatting with you the other day that I was explainging the number three
then I though of eight.....And infinity....I then explained the number three
metapysical/ numerology theory to my uncle and he laughed... I got a pen
and drew out the symbol three and he laughed and drew a reverse number three
(as a three if you hold it to a mirror and attached it together and he said
now your three is eight..I became obsessed when then thoughts of an hour
glass came to mind and it very much resembles the 8 in its own way... So
I pondered that maybe the indiviual who created the hour glass knew something
and that if eight "8" is infinity then let us compare.... The
hour glass sucks sand through it and down to the bottom of the hour glass...
Let us just look at 8 now and imagine a cosmic hour glass and let us think that the sandwich can resemble the Present and Existence is being sucked through the 8 or the cosmic hour glass, and it is then alternated to go over and over sucking sand... Now wonder...Can there be a dimension and is it an eight that keeps time...and if this was so, then as the sand gets recycled then would time be recycled and turned over going into the other side of the hour glass or 8 or cosmic hour glass....
Now what if the universe was the shape of 8 and the 8 is made of a 3 and a backwards three which combined as 8 makes two cosmic loops.... Now this may sound radical, but what if in the middle of the 8 was a zero and that zero can be a black hole sucking the universe and matter through the black hole and to the bottom half of the 8 just like sand going through the hour glass.... .With this theory of course it doesn't prove anything but it makes you think that if this is true then there is no past or future and just moment or the present.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 1/13/2013 11:53 PM | Add Comment|
|The Metaphysics of the number Three - theory by artist Nick Grossmann|
From Paganism to Mysticism to Religoin the number three has always had some spiritual purpose....The top point of the three represents the upper world, the botom point of the three represents the lower world and the middle point represents the present physical world... Could it be fair to say that the number three is some key to harmony or enlightenment?? Like if there maybe a balance of upper and lower world would that bring harmony.....The middle is a cosmic loop and we can say the middle point of the three is a zero....The zero is a spiritual number in mysticism for a portal witch maybe it is fair to say is the present and the moment....Maybe the key to all this and the number three is learning to live in the present...I once jamed out in a band and the lead singer used to say God was in the present....With the number three the top and bottom meet in the middle and the middle can be what represents the present and maybe the key to life is being in the present...
This is why we have and what the world is -- third dimension....from the upper and lower world combined in a cosmic loop.....I wonder what other keys there are with other numbers to unlock dimensions???
The full moon. When the earth,moon,and sun are combines...Could this have to do with the mystical number three? They say its the best time to do spell work and its not 28 days its really 29 days...so looking at 3 originally the top (higher) the middle (physical) and the bottom ( lower) while you look at three like that look at the time of the full moon and look at 3 which in theory the top which is our sun can represent higher the middle this time is the moon and that can represent lower and the bottom instead of lower world is earth our physical which makes the full moon effect and gravitational changes ideal for spell work and anything metaphysical.. My point is looking at "3" the combination of the three worlds upper,physical,and lower can be switched around to go into another cosmic vibration such as the full moon and also women tend to give birth on that day which is 29 days not 28...technically 29...so with 3 would it be fair to say that you can metaphysically play with the combinations???
And if these cosmic
bodies align then think of other combinations of moons,sun and planets....could
it be the keys to unlocking difrent dimensions or realities if done correctly??
|Posted by AzothGallery at 1/8/2013 10:52 AM | Add Comment|
TRANSITION and the SUBLIME:
An Art History of the Early Renaissance by JOHNES RUTA (New Haven, CT)
A Literary Theory: PROLEPSIS: The Dream of Consciousness
by JOHNES RUTA (New Haven, CT)
A Critique of [Im] Pure Criticism:
An Outline of legitimate Criteria for Art Criticism
by JOHNES RUTA (New Haven, CT)
tHE dUALITY oF pHILOsOPHY: The Etymology of "Wisdom;" The Coiling helix of Time;
The 2 names of Mary: An alchemical dialectic of history. by Johnes Ruta, 1999.
Duality, Trinity The
Vortex of the Absolute: Tracing the scientific and moral background
in the schematic of Dantes "Divine Comedy," and
how allegory is used to reveal the continuous unfolding of natural
levels and lines of energy describing a harmonious universe, in three
parallel dimensionsof geological, human, and astronomical history.
Contributed by JOSEPH
CAEZZA (Norwich, NY):
HERMETIC MUSEUM: Alchemy and Mysticism" by Alexander Roob.
Taschen Books, Hohenzollernring 53, D-50672 Kolin, (1997); 711 pp., $29.95
|AZOTH ART BLOG continued|
review "the porno years v.1" Bop Tweedie CD music
review by Johnes Ruta, independent curator, AzothGallery.com
Bop Tweedies first album release is a professional sounding and technically well-produced musical experience which creates a colorful fabric. His tracks have the sensation of being songs with no lyrics: a diverse range of jazzy layers of melodic and harmonic sounds.
The first cut, a crash course in crashing, carries a medium up-tempo beat with a Trance melodic flow, the effect is mesmerizing. A second layer of musical melody then envelops us and draws us down on a penetrating descent into psychic depths which remain navigable along extended lines of harmonic sounds. This is great and sophisticated listening !
Tonal harmony appears to be the underlying structure of Tweedies music, where the strains also carry one off into the ether, but without the loss of ones bearings. The musical tones work mostly in the positive major keys, starting and ending with feelings of exhilaration. The instinctual effect is that of birds in migration, flying far above the land by internal compass.
The second cut, doe a dog, generates a positive hypnosis with an array of strangely familiar voices: quiet conversations of incomprehensible words below the threshold of meaning. The next cut doesnt the rain smell nice? brings forth oscillating water-like waves of feeling; underscored with quiet laughing voices that are set to a dance beat.
fee plus fie equals fo fum builds a trance that rises up from beneath into a motive energy flow with upbeat harmonic levels added. headphones plugged into nothing carries a sweet Calypso island beat in a melodic progression. In id rather be famous, quiet voices up rising from the depths are now layered over the buzz of an electrical current in the key of C, with the refrain Id rather be infamous!"
In march of the cicadas as in milk of wonder, mating calls from insect antennae radio signals invoke hyperactive speed dancing. Welcome to life and love in the cicada dimension! In contrast, the rise and fall of your chest when you are sleeping then presents a sweet and sonorous relaxing piano melody.
There is a fine continuity
of mood in Tweedies compositions in lessons perhaps learned from
early electronic composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich, and
Pauline Oliveros. But Tweedie significantly evolves beyond intellectual-sounding
synthesized notes into a deeply emotive compendium. His patterns of voices,
instruments, and electronics in experimental jazz time-signature progressions
like those of Dave Brubeck, Eric Dolphy, and Ornette Coleman, produce
moods opening into a future-conscious dimension -- the kind of future
we hope for, rather than dystopia. -- Indeed, Tweedies titles, culminating
with think before you think and standing in a garden
on a whim propel this positive evolution, and trail us off into
affirmative consciousness with a hypnotic back-beat
|Posted by AzothGallery at 3/11/2011 9:46 AM | Add Comment|
on the Herb Rogoff Lecture and Exhibition
by Donna Marie Joyce
|Thank you, Curator Johnes Ruta, for giving the public including myself the rare opportunity to meet and speak with "painter, illustrator, filmmaker, lecturer and publisher," Herb Rogoff on Thursday, December 9th, 2010. Had it not been for the holiday season, I firmly believe this would have been a "standing room only" event. We were quite fortunate to have a memorable evening with the remarkably talented Mr. Rogoff speaking to such a small crowd so personally and intimately about his experience in and of the art world. His chronological presentation of the comics both in the United States and abroad was fascinating and his well-articulated point that the comics and the artists who create them should not be relegated to second class status in the art world was especially well-taken...how easy it is to rifle through the pages of a newspaper seeking the news of the day and wholly ignoring the comic pages of the newspaper without realizing that it is in those comic pages where the comic artist creates some of the most relevant socio-political discussion of the day.|
notably, the opportunity to hear Mr. Rogoff speak was only accentuated by
the fact that the presentation was made at the New Haven Free Public Library
during Mr. Rogoff's own exhibition entitled "The Way it Used to Be
and Now." His paintings, many of which recapture the nostalgia of a
bygone era, are outstanding in every sense of the word.
|To encounter his
painting, "Carousel: 1966" is a virtual candyland for the eyes.
The lady dressed in purple in the foreground of the painting takes center
stage. Her strong jaw, facial features and musculature appear androgynous
whilst exuding a palpable and robust energy. After discovering all the smiling
faces in the painting, whether the figures are male or female really doesn't
preoccupy this viewer. What becomes abundantly clear is that in life's playground
the common human experience of having fun is what matters most. Likewise,
"Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2009" captures the euphoria of
the parade experience...Colorful and nostalgic, it's possible to be a child
again and again just by looking at this magnificent compendium of characters.
But, undoubtedly, I found "Lower East Side: 1942: Menachim Rubin Sells His Pretzels" to be the most incredible of Rogoff's paintings on display until December 29, 2010 at the Library Gallery. Mr. Rogoff dates his painting "1942" but could this not be the New York's Lower East Side of "2010" as well? Aren't there still independently-owned zipper, sweater and pant shops up and down New York City Lower East Side streets and signage that may still read "Streit's Matzos," and "Myron's Hats?" And as is portrayed in the lower left of the painting, aren't there still handsome industrious Jewish men in poorboy caps selling their produce and wares and long white-bearded rabbis walking the street with exactly the same concerned expression? And as is portrayed in the right side of the painting, aren't there still Jewish grandmothers with that same warm and forgiving smile...and doesn't that white-haired lady look precisely like the one you almost bumped into last week when you were in the City when she flashed you that smile?
And, so it is that Mr. Rogoff presents images that are so classic and relatable that the painting is almost timeless. In presenting "The Way it Used to Be and Now," we find that at least when it comes to portraying the New York experience and the Jewish culture and influence there, things are really not all that different. Perhaps, it is Mr. Rogoff's commentary on the remarkable resilience and appeal of the Jewish people...a people so deeply rooted in tradition, with such strong family bonds and an equally strong work ethic that life on New York's Lower East Side is much like French writer Alphonse Karr's proverbial saying "the more things change, the more they stay the same."
But, perhaps we should ask Mr. Rogoff directly about what he intended in this painting and it certainly wouldn't be difficult to do so. For as much as Mr. Rogoff is described as a "polymath of art," he is not unlike his favorite comic book hero, Stan Lee's "Spiderman," a superhuman who is still very human and very humble.
Thanks again, Johnes, for another class act,
Donna Marie Joyce
|Posted by AzothGallery at 12/22/2010 10:15 AM | Add Comment|
|SOME THOUGHTS ON JOHN FAVRET'S EXHIBIT by DONNA MARIE JOYCE|
lazy summer afternoon at the New Haven Library, I was catapulted from a
state of relative calm and quiet contemplation to a state of anticipation,
then anxiety and apprehension. Thankfully, I'm not prone to anxiety attacks.
But, that is precisely what I felt when viewing "The Stairway"
(44" x 58" acrylic on canvas) in Paintings by John Favret on exhibit
at the New Haven Public Library through October 12, 2010.
Nearly everyone can recall a staircase or two they have descended perhaps into a cocktail party or niteclub where lights are dimmed. But, what makes John Favret's painting "The Stairway" ominous for this viewer is that when one leaves the well-lit stairs, things seem just a bit too dark. One could almost discern the top of people's heads in a crowd but you can't discern figures in this degree of darkness. And so, I felt to be just a couple stairs above the person in the painting descending those stairs. Perhaps just enough time to turn around and get out of there but, in any case, definitely activating my "fight or flight" response.
John Favret is a master at eliciting emotion from his viewer. His ability
to bring "the viewer as participant" in his paintings is remarkable
and reminds me of many stylized icons I have seen where the viewer is brought
directly within the purview of the painting. Most of Favret's paintings
are life-size and the texture of the paint so visceral that one feels to
merge with the painting itself.
In "Crapshoot" (60" x 52" acrylic on canvas), one need only take a quick ride to the local casino to know that Favret has captured the essence of the gambling experience. From exultation and pure euphoria, to fear and desperation, to overstimulation and then to numbness and disconnect how one feels is a consequence of where he or she is in the game...not unlike the game of life itself. And the "viewer as participant" is a part of the palatable energy.
(24" x 30" acrylic on canvas), because the painting is somewhat
smaller in scale than Favret's more typical life-size canvases, I felt as
if he might be suggesting life in the rear view mirror; a memory rather
than an event transpiring at that very moment. The painting encourages self-reflection
and I felt as though I may have walked down that street myself once or many
time in my life. With a certain degree of acceptance or perhaps even resignation
the figure in the painting schleps down the street in baseball cap and carry-on
and his concerns could just as well be the viewer's concerns. But the figures
are small and distant and the greater vibe of the City at night takes center
Interestingly, it is the City that is the backdrop in "The Story Teller" (52" x 60" acrylic on canvas). The story teller continues "to spin yarns" whilst the listeners seem resigned and another at the edge of the painting seems to be running fervently to escape the story teller's milieu. The affect is almost humorous as everyone has been part of a conversation from which he or she has wanted direly to escape.
But, what is so interesting about "The Story Teller" is that in the macrocosm of the City it is this microcosm of a few individuals that takes Favret's concern. The importance of the individual is elevated and certainly makes the point that we all have a story to tell even if it is not a story all want to hear.
In the City of New Haven, Mr. Johnes Ruta as curator of Azothgallery, has provided for many artists' stories throughout the years whether tucked away in the York Square Cinema's gallery or the New Haven Public Library's lower level gallery. And thankfully, each and every exhibition has been a story worth the listening.
Cordially, Donna Marie Joyce
|Posted by AzothGallery at 10/2/2010 9:07 AM | Add Comment|
|"Deer & Other Stories" by Susan Tepper -- BOOK REVIEW by Johnes Ruta|
Tepper's book of short stories "Deer & Other Stories" compels
the reader forward with a sense of suspense. Even though these are not mystery
tales, each story sets the stage of a situation that makes one anxious to
know what will happen next. In several stories, the narrative skillfully
starts out with the exposition of a panorama of characters, each who views
the circumstances from their own perspective, but then the focus gradually
weaves its way into the voice and even the heart of one member of the array.
"Deer" is a story of teen-age hi-jinx during the Vietnam War period, one of the youths' uncle a colonel, while the banter of sarcasm, half-hearted rebellion, and coming-of-age hormones rage and perplex one ostensible young couple. In "String" a thirty-something wife struggles to clean the home they are about to move into, struggles with her religious scruples and icons, and with her suspicions of her husband's whereabouts.
In "Remember Hardy," the authors effectively switches gender, getting inside of the husband of a middle-aged couple socializing with their house neighbors on both sides, most closely with his friendlier neighbor's alluring and startling intuitive foreign wife. The narrative provides insights to the man's emergence of his subliminal sensations, the wife's intuitive awareness, the point-of-view of an involved observer.
In "Blue Skies" the narrator finally emerges as the young gay male spending the summer with his lover who has inherited a beach house in East Hampton. A cast of young friends populate each color-coordinated bedroom: another happy and secure gay couple, young-women twins, all quietly enjoying the summer. And then suddenly, a French girl with yapping poodles arrives to sleep with his boy-friend. As the new arrangement is manifested, one feels the immanent and deepening heart-break...
The married, middle-aged psychotherapist in "Help" wrestles in his own battle between his super-ego, ego, and id, over his suppressed lust for a beautiful patient.
And in "Within You Without You" and "Elvis in the Meditation Garden" are convincing, fascinating first-hand accounts of an sexy and attractive, thirtyish young woman traveling with the Beatles in India to live in the Maharishi's commune, and again as a concert organizer helping a suddenly resurrected Elvis prepare for his "come-back" concert....
Indeed, having first heard the former of these two stories read by Susan Tepper at a poetry reading in Washington Heights, I was convinced -- perhaps still -- that this was a privileged personal memoir. Each of Tepper's narratives has a ring of reality to it, visually well-described though hovering on the edge of it, seamless and compelling story-telling !
Other Stories" by Susan Tepper (2009, Wilderness House Press)
|Posted by AzothGallery at 6/16/2010 2:52 PM | Add Comment|
|COMMENTS ON THE ORJUELA EXHIBIT - by Donna Marie Joyce|
|Lisie S. Orjuela "flowershells & honeycombs" oil on canvas, 2007, 60 x 63|
day it was Tuesday, April 27, 2010, to visit the Lisie S. Orjuela exhibit
at the New Haven Public Library. En route to the exhibit, thick grey, ominous
clouds suspended in the sky and then suddenly, the sun split the skies on
the eastern horizon and for a minute or two the sky was evenly split between
utter darkness and utter light...and there I witnessed the Divine's manifestation
of what the artist Orjuela conveys so vidividly in her canvases namely "The
World of Paradoxes."
As I entered the exhibit, I first encountered "Still Gathering/Enough" (50" x 68" oil on canvas, 2007), an oil on canvas triptych. Before my eyes could comfortably settle upon some of the more restful colors in the first and third panels, my eyes shifted to what appeared to be a face which manifested in the mid-panel bearing jaundiced eyes...and one could sense the darkness and struggle coexisting amidst the pinks and muted landscape of the panels.
Against the far wall, I experienced "Flowershells & Honeycombs," (60" x 63" oil on canvas, 2007), another oil on canvas triptych. The dimension and texture of this painting up close is remarkable. Through the layering of paint, I really got a sense of the expiration of time...as the black especially appeared to have been applied at the very last, I sensed that time itself was responsible for bringing "struggle" and "contradiction" to this otherwise restful and fluid place where flowershells and honeycombs did abide.
And, indeed, in "Blown Through," (60" x 65" oil on canvas, 2009), an Orjuela diptych, the "disruption" and "disconnect" is achieved sequentially. Whereas in the first panel, the birds appear upright, I found their fate turned upside down in the second panel where the glass is "blown through."
In "Milonga in Violets," (12" x 16" oil on canvas, 2001), light and the figure's connection to the earth really seems to prevail but for the deep red/maroon that lurks at the figure's back...And even in "Abandon," (12" x 16" oil on canvas, 2001), although we see a female nude figure in repose, dark maroon circles and streaks surround the figure seeming to manifest the possibility of "disruption" and disquietude and we cannot fully "abandon" our thoughts to the figure alone.
And, this is what I find so remarkable about Orjuela's paintings. Whether the "disruption" or "disconnect" is achieved through layers and layers of paint or whether the "disruption" or "disconnect" is achieved sequentially over a course of two or more panels, "the world of paradoxes" is never far away...and whether it consistently coexists in each and every life situation or whether it merely lurks on the horizon is perhaps a matter of personal interpretation but the struggle is ever present and brilliantly captured in Orjuela's oeuvre.
Thank you again, Johnes, for introducing another high calibre artist. As an artist and art lover, who has followed most of your shows from the old York Square Cinema to new spaces including the New Haven Public Library, I am ever thankful for how your sophisticated eye has kept the New Haven art scene fresh and new.
Donna Marie Joyce
|Posted by AzothGallery at 5/4/2010 11:14 PM | Add Comment|
Felix Bronner "How I Got Here" art exhibit at the New Haven Free
by Donna Marie Joyce
receiving several art invitations this fall, Im sorry I was unable
to attend the final art opening before renovation of the gallery area in
the New Haven Public Library and reopening in spring 2010.
Nonetheless, I did stop by to view the Dr. Felix Bronner exhibit this past week. As usual, it was another inspiring set of works. I noted a palpable feeling of particles/ matter/ energy in all of the works. With the restful and calming primary color of seafoam green, Seascape was a great way to start the exhibit. Roaring Over Print is fantastic to me its an apt metaphor these days for my state of mind, and equally well depicts my office space.
Finally, I enjoyed And What Can You See? .. Im still not precisely sure what I did see .. Every time I glanced at the work during my short visit, the experience was different but it was a great adventure!
Hope to see you in 2010! Thanks again for continuing to include me on your art opening invitations list.
All the Best,
Donna Marie Joyce
|Posted by AzothGallery at 11/24/2009 7:43 PM | Add Comment|
Home: Reviewing the Wheel painting of the late Philip Guston
-- essay by Ellen Hackl Fagan
|Phillip Guston "Wheel" oils on canvas|
is where the truth lives. Where all affects are removed,we live with ourselves
(and possibly others) along with our flaws and our triumphs. For many, this
is a place inside a building. For others, this is a feeling deep inside
our conscious. When pondering the topic ofhome, in the context
of a gallery, it seemed opportune to discuss the work of an artist whose
attempt to depict this subject transcended particular places, but speaks
of the internalized meaning of home. The artist who really hits
home for me is Philip Guston, and I want to discuss one of his final
paintings, Wheel painted a year before his death in 1979.
In Gustons later works we see his self-portrait emerge as a Sad Sack, schlumping along the surface of the earth, his stubbly bandaged face,his Cyclopean stare. His gaze sees his world, his problems with himself and with the act of painting. He also looks at the problems in our world in its time. If youve ever painted or struggled with creating something, Gustons hand will tear at your heart. Gooey, thick pink blobs, peach and red, crudely rendered black lines and tan mushy, gushy paint resists casual flow and shows us that the artist has been humbled in making his mark. I could wear his reddened paint as a skin, or I could dive into its viscous depths, traveling to the internal workings of his all-too-human heart. Its his self-portrait, but it speaks to anyone who has ever felt like that Sad Sack, unable to ignore the sirens call of paint and surface, to attempt transforming the intangible into the palpably tangible over and over again.
Gustons Everyman is a trusted observer, reporting on the way it feels to question ones own abilities as well as the authorities in charge of our lives. Fearlessly honest about his position in this life, underwhelming on the outside, this grubby, stubbly man goes along unnoticed and unhampered. We are invited to take the journey with him, through the course of his ugly, raw paintings. To paint about the life of Everyman, and possess an ounce of truth, we have to submit to showing its ugly side. Guston shares the company of historys heavyweights: Hugo, Goya, Bosch, Joyce, Bukowski and Kerouac. We know his Sad Sack to be, atleast in some small way, ourselves.
As Gustons paintings evolved, the self-portrait externalized and became more universal. Symbolism is the way to abstraction and Gustons Everyman became a Wheel. After working my way through his oeuvre at the Met years ago, the last canvases stopped me cold. The simplicity, the palette born of flesh,blood and bone, and his beating heart, rang so true that I couldnt stop my tears. These canvases, printed themselves upon me and gratefully, have never left my memory, still remaining powerful and immediate.
That wheel was going home. Guston suffered from a near heart attack that same year and death was a question he undoubtedly explored. The sky is darkening in this painting. The wheel is monolithic, its rustic bolts and crude wooden construction heavily outlined in black. The rough wood glows yellow (like a halo?). The moon rises to the left of the half-buried wheel from the horizon line of a deep scarlet earthen road (or is that a turbulent sea?). The moon rising is reminiscent of mythology. The reflection of the moon on the earth/sea surface shows us the path to the Underworld or the Spirit World or redemption. It signals that death is imminent.
Going home might entail a final judgment before God prior to being granted entry into Paradise. Home is the place to die and put the earthbound body to rest. The Wheel is a timeless metaphor every tribal storyteller, shaman or folk musician has passed down. Through Jerry Garcia, Johnny Cash, mountain music, gospel songs and spirituals, and eastern religious practices, The Wheel of Life keeps turning. No one can get off; it keeps going round. The fact that Guston evolved in his painting to the point where he, too, entered that storytelling tradition shows anyone brave enough to look with an unblinking gaze, that home is very real, very true, and that we, too, will one day be that Wheel. Slowly turning, revealing its face to the viewer, resolute in its direction with the moon rising in the horizon, half stuck, no longer able to hide flaws, like Guston,we are on a path to home.
Ellen Hackl Fagan
|Posted by AzothGallery at 10/19/2009 11:00 AM | Add Comment|
BOBORELU Mystical abstraction & musical Syncopation
written by Johnes Ruta, firstname.lastname@example.org
Creative writer; Independent curator, since 1988.
Art Director New Haven Free Public Library.
a recent studio visit to Valeriu Boborelus studio on Roosevelt Island,
NYC, I was fascinated to view and analyze the direction and concepts in
his new art pieces: A large new diptych was absorbing and mesmerizing
To preface an understanding of his new work, Mr. Boborelu had sent me an outline and diagram of the 5 Buddha Families and the 5 Realms of Samsara, representing the transcendent, brilliant, & compassionate states of Mind and Reality . . .
In a large diptych of four fitted panels in black and white only, totaling 8 feet high by 12 feet wide, Boborelu has created what Id describe as a "geometric object field : a painting in which black fractal objects on a white ground vibrate beyond the visible animation of objects into a deep spiritual contemplation. These forms capture a momentary / instantaneous Space / Time Continuum.
In another painting, measuring 40" x 40", flowing currents of bright red, green, yellow, and blue paint move diagonally downhill across the canvas from upper left to lower right. This motion seemed to create a flowing bridge of colored space which juxtaposed this piece and the diptych together.
The sensation of this bridge connected over a kind of open space, and this space seemed to occur in the time frame between my initial impression of the artwork and the moment in which the smaller painting then carried me into the threshold of a Buddhist state of Contemplation. This sensation then proceeded to a second threshold, in which the black and white fractals and the colored animation took on an energy of Matter, such as a vision of the conception of Life.
would appear that in his spiritual explorations Mr. Boborelu has discovered
a means to trace, and in many instances, create a syncopation in the flow
of Time. His artwork in this way orchestrates a form of music.
~ Johnes Ruta, independent
|Posted by AzothGallery at 9/7/2009 5:55 PM | Add Comment|
|Art Review: "GREAT ESCAPES" Pastel Paintings by Georgette Sinclair.|
RIVAA, 527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NYC.
October 18 - November 23, 2008. Published 11/24/2008.
Review written by Johnes Ruta, 22 Willard Street, New Haven, CT 06515
Creative writer; Independent curator, since 1988. Art Director New Haven Free Public Library.
the Gallery RIVAA on Roosevelt Island, artist Georgette Sinclair has mounted
a wide-ranging and impressive exhibition of small pastel landscape paintings,
in which she shows a distinct and diverse talent to transport the viewer
into peaceful dimensions of soft pastel light, using contrasts of color
and scale -- Sinclair's views of fields, woods, and country roads of the
Scotland, Burgundy, and Vermont places where she periodically travels.
Even at mid-day, only faint eastern light filters into the store-front windows of the Gallery RIVAA from the Roosevelt Island city street, even further remote behind low embankment seating of the showcase area. But the interior space is moreover a comfortably-lit complex of open and long rooms, ambient walls, and display spaces both wide and narrow.
|Georgette Sinclair "Burgundy France" pastels on
paper, 15"w x 11"h.
gallery space is normally conducive to a variety of frequent group shows,
and is a popular and well-supported artists collective. But as the sole
artist on display, Sinclair's work poetically fills the entire space and
easily engages the viewer into her world of both deep and bright color hues
of blue, orange, yellow, and brown: In pieces like "Sunrise Isle of
"Mists of Burgundy," "Corn Field in November," and "Nocturne -- Queady Lake, NY," visible strokes of the artist's pastel brush upon white paper provide a subtle undertone which seeps into the viewer's consciousness rather as reflected surfaces of light.
|Georgette Sinclair "Island of Skye, Scotland" pastels on paper, 15"w x 11"h.|
"Sacre Coeur, Paris" a cathedral rises against a darkening sky,
shadowy trees line the embankment of the Seine along which people stroll
quietly in their own evening worlds.
In "Passing Storm, VT," green lake water reflects the lavender twilight sky, soft and cloudy; the landscape recedes from detailed perspectives into unfocused distant horizons of blue and turquoise mountains. In "Pasture," a S-shaped bright green field curves between dark green woods along both sides.
Ms. Sinclair, also an Audiologist, was a 1980's émigré from Romania. She says that she is fascinated by the beauty of nature and finds poetry in scenes which express a mood by freezing a moment. Indeed, her landscape expressions capture the moods and fragments of time.
|Georgette Sinclair "France - Sunflower Field" pastels on paper, 12"w x 5"h.|
|Posted by AzothGallery at 5/1/2009 10:40 PM | Add Comment|
on the Sublime
The following is an essay by Dr. Janice E. Patten, University of San Jose'
This URL is linked as a literary resource on AzothGallery.com
and precipitated a series of philosophical Comments which follow.
Longinus: "On the Sublime"
Longinus, writing in the classical historical tradition says that the sublime implies that man can, in emotions and in language, transcend the limits of the human condition. Longinus's approach is contradistinguished from Plato's declaration of poetic inspiration as dangerous divine madness or the poet as liar. Yet like Plato, Longinus feels that the human was the art or technical aspects, while the sublime was the "soul" or that which eluded our experience of art. In order to understand the sublime, we must have some notion of what exists beyond the human, empirical experience. Longinus explains that this "beyond" is comprehended in terms of metaphor, or in terms of what is absent from the empirical world. Our sense of the sublime is an illusion, which draws the reader to new heights, to the realization that there is something more to human life than the mundane, the ordinary. In fact, the sublime entails a kind of mystery. The sublime is that which defeats every effort of sense and imagination to picture it. It is that whose presence reduces all else to nothingness. It can be defined and described only in symbolic terms, which ironically defies the pictorial arts to sketch it. It remains only for the art of the metaphorical language of poetry to give the suggestion of the sublime.
Longinus's contribution to conceptions of the beautiful/sublime also includes the poet's "joining" with this vision of greatness. We gain a greater sense of freedom, by our sense of our capacity to join in this greatness. Hence when we speak of Longinus we think of verbs such as "transport," "transcend," "awe-full," "flight," "amazement," and "astonishment." One particular quotation summarizes this idea: "For, as if instinctively, our soul is uplifted by the true sublime; it takes a proud flight, and is filled with joy and vaunting, as though it had itself produced what it has heard."
Longinus centers also on figurative language, discussing the great writers of the past and their importance, our "possession 'by a spirit not one's own. . . . The genius of the ancients acts as a kind of oracular cavern, and effluences flow from it into the minds of their imitators." He holds Plato up as a model and an ideal of great literature, thereby answering and defending Plato's style against his critics. The decline of letters in his day is due not to despotism, but slavery to pleasure and greed. He shows us that great thoughts have been uttered by men of the past and can be uttered again. Sublimity becomes, for him, the source of the distinction of the greatest poets and prose writers, something like a thunderbolt that could strike anywhere. Because of his belief in sublimity, he also believes in the privileging of mental processes. He holds in an almost mystical way that the composer is identified with what he describes; and because of the excitement of the moment of inspiration, the hearer or reader is also a participant in the feeling of sublimity. And so it was that Longinus first brought passion and the concept of readerly complementation to the study of literature.
Edmund Burke: "A Philosophical
Inquiry into the Origin of our
Burke is clearly in the debt of Longinus, but his fundamental orientation is different. Drawing from the empiricism of John Locke, Burke assumes all our knowledge comes by way of sense experience, combing simple impressions into more complex ones. Imagination, for Burke, is more closely aligned with Coleridge's conception of "fancy." It operates in two ways, by "representing at pleasure the images of things in the order and manner in which they were received by the senses" and by "combining those images in anew manner, and according to a different order." Therefore, according to Burke, the imagination cannot create anything "new"; it can only reorder and combine basic sense perceptions.
More important than taste are distinctions involving the sublime. The sublime applies to large, grand parts of nature while the beautiful is evident in small parts. In addition, Burke associates the fear of death, dismemberment, terror, and darkness (e.g., a howling wilderness) with feelings of sublime. Locke does not think that darkness is sign of terror, but Burke feels an association of utter darkness makes it impossible to ascertain one's safety, sensing immanent danger evokes a feeling of the sublime. He sees a difference between what the mind expects and what occurs in any given situation. Part of his thesis involves the fact that fear robs the mind of reason, hence evoking the sublime. He says:
Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. I say the strongest emotion, because I am satisfied the ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure.
In Burke's terminology, the "passions which concern self-preservation, turn mostly on pain and danger" (55). To make circumstances appear terrible, however, obscurity is necessary. "All privation is great because they are all terrible: Vacuity, darkness, solitude, and silence. Low and intermittent sounds and shadows bring about feelings of the sublime. Above all, the actions of the mind are affected by the sublime."
Sir Uvedale Price considered the nature of the sublime, but argued in a line consistent with ideas of the picturesque.
Kant says that sublimity does not reside in anything of nature, but only in our mind, insofar as we can become conscious that we are superior to nature within, and therefore also to nature without us (so far as it influences us). Everything that excites this feeling in us, e.g., the might of nature that calls forth our forces, is called then (although improperly) sublime. Only by supposing this idea of the sublimity of that Being which produces respect in us, not merely by the might that it displays in nature, but rather by means of the faculty which resides in us of judging it fearlessly and of regarding our destination as sublime in respect of it. ("Of the Dynamically Sublime in Nature"; Adams, Critical 396). In Kant, "the mind feels itself set in motion in representation of the sublime in nature; this movement, especially in it inception, may be compared with a vibration with a rapidly alternating repulsion and attraction produced by one and the same Object. The point of excess for the imagination is like an abyss in which it fears to lose itself." ("Analytic of the Sublime" 107, qt'd in Thomas Weiskel's The Romantic Sublime 105)
Wordsworth on the sublime and the Beautiful: in speaking of seeing the mountains of Langdale pike--
Let me then invite the Reader to turn his eyes with me towards that cluster of Mountains at the Head of Windermere; it is probable that they will settle ere long upon the Pikes of Langdale and the black precipice contiguous to them. If these objects be so distant that, while we look at them, they are only thought of as the crown a comprehensive Landscape; if our minds be not perverted by false theories, unless those mountains be seen under some accidents of nature, we shall receive from them a grand impression, and nothing more. But if they be looked at from a point which has brought us so near that the mountain is almost the sole object before our eyes, yet not so near but that the whole of it is visible, we shall be impressed with a sensation of sublimity.--And if this analyzed, the body of this sensation would be found to resolve itself into three component parts: a sense of individual form or forms; a sense of duration; and a sense of power. . . . A mountain being a stationary object is enabled to effect this in connection with duration and individual form, by the sense of motion which in the midst accompanies the lines by which the Mountain itself is shaped out" (351-2). . . .Individuality of form is the primary requisite; and the form must be of that character that deeply impresses the sense of power. And power produces the sublime whether as it is thought of as a thing to be feared, to be resisted, or that can be participated. To what degree consistent with sublimity power may be dreaded has been ascertained; but as power, contemplated as something to be opposed or resisted, implies a twofold agency of which the mind is conscious, this state seems to be irreconcilable to what has been determined, exists in the extinction of the comparing power of the mind, & in intense unity.(356).
"Imagination . . . so called / Through sad incompetence
of human speech" (Prelude 6.592-93). Human sight rises in intensity
from memory through salience tot he occlusion of the visible. Imagination
also rises "like an unfather'd vapour" to target man's fight
to remain autonomous and self-reliant.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 4/30/2009 8:17 PM| 2 Comments | Add Comment|
Paul Szemanczky wrote:
I discovered Janice Patten's "Sublime" essay linked from your webpage and want to tell you it is incredible. Edmund Burke comes off dark and brooding, as if he were searching like Hans Gunther for "the Nordic" man, some Aryan strain of perfection.
One of the books left by my late father, Jules Szemanczky (1926-2008), was a 1947 text from the New Haven State Teacher's College, a beautiful, huge volume of English poetry, which must have been one of the courses he took. I was always enchanted by it, especially the Romantics. The Lyrical Ballads (Prelude) of Wordsworth particularly ringed true for the two of us, Dad and myself. Janice Patten's description of the mountains of Langdale Pike as seen by Wordsworth ring true with my actual vision yesterday from 850' feet high on Goat's Peak's watch tower inside Connecticut's Mount Tom State Reservation park.
Dad would have loved Patten's closing: (Wordsworth) "Human sight rises in intensity from memory through salience to the occlusion of the visible. Imagination also rises "like an unfather'd vapour" to target man's fight to remain autonomous and self-reliant.
Our whole society seems to be bending opposite the Wordsworth's treatise towards co-dependence, impersonal social-engineering, and ulterior (state) regulation, all Wordsworthian anathma. I wish Dad could have read Patten's paper, he would have loved it. I gave him oncea condensed text of Schopenhauer's, and in his Marcus Aurelius fashion, he devoured it and found many threads of salvation. Eternal optimist, yet truly Stoic, was he.
Views and Visions of Thomas Cole
by Carl Pfluger
Etna from Taormina" Wadsworth Athenaenum, Hartford, CT, USA
Cole died in 1848, his reputation, both in the art world and among the general
public, was enormous: probably higher than has been attained by any other
American painter, before or since. Generally recognized as the founder of
the "Hudson River School", the first really distinctively American
movement in the visual arts, he had (largely by his own untutored efforts)
virtually invented a new style of landscape, specializing in views of the
wilderness which in those days could still be seen (though already requiring
some effort to get around the touristy trappings) in the Northeastern States:
especially in the valleys of the Hudson and Connecticut Rivers, and in the
White Mountains of New Hampshire. At the same time, Cole (who was always
working restlessly at improving his technique and diversifying his subjects)
had also produced a large body of work more obviously derived from older
European models: "Arcadian" pastorals in the tradition of Claude
Lorrain; melodramatic renditions of Biblical and other literary themes,
which owed a lot to John Martin; elegiac views of Antique ruins, mostly
in Italy; and a handful of unclassifiable paintings which (at least to this
untutored eye) look like uncanny anticipations of Surrealism. Yet more significant
than all these, in the estimation of both Cole himself and most of his contemporaries,
were those works generally described, for want of a better word, as allegories
-- which Cole sometimes called "epico-historical", and which he
always regarded as "the higher style of landscape". These were
groups of pictures conceived and executed as consecutive series, illustrating
in a clearly sequential narrative mode some moral, philosophical, religious
or historical lesson. Pre-eminent among these sequences are The Course of
Empire, The Voyage of Life, and The Cross and the World. These widely admired
works were, Cole felt, his highest achievements, the strongest supports
of his standing as an artist and a visionary.
But hardly less phenomenal than the scale of Cole's reputation during his life was its steep and sudden decline shortly after his death. (I can't help feeling that Cole himself would have derived some melancholy enjoyment from this, pre-occupied as he so often was with spectacles of the transience of human accomplishment.) He was, to be sure, never completely forgotten; but in respectable opinion Cole's work was soon taken seriously in only one of its many facets - the "pure" landscapes, especially of "wild" scenes - and even these were often treated with a patronizing benevolence not far short of contempt. As for the paintings dearest to Cole's heart -- the religious allegories, the historical epics - they were dismissed or ignored as an embarrassment, just the kind of faux pas likely to be committed by an awkward bumpkin unaware of the true nature of his own genius - or of his proper station in life. By the beginning of this century the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, that priceless repository of Late-Victorian wisdom, summed up the prevailing view of Cole's "higher style" thus:
"The work, however, was meretricious, the sentiment false, artificial and conventional, and the artist's genuine fame must rest on his landscapes, which, though thin in the painting, hard in the handling, and not infrequently painful in detail, were at least earnest endeavours to portray the world out of doors as it appeared to the painter; the failings were the result of Cole's environment and training."
Of course, none of the modernisms that emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth had much use for the programmatic, narrative or illustrative dimensions of painting, tending to view them as a kind of contaminant to the purely formal, and increasingly abstract, visual or "painterly" elements. So it is understandable that Cole's reputation suffered from this change in the climate of artistic fashion, because he always was, in the manner fashionable in his own time, a thoroughly literary painter, who always assumed that the visual arts refer to some range of concerns beyond themselves - and who had no problem, by the way, in sometimes addressing those concerns in writing as well as in painting. As recently as 1962 James Thomas Flexner clucked disapprovingly over Cole's "dangerous literary gifts" - as if he would have been a better painter had he been illiterate, a kind of idiot savant!
But more recently, fashions have been changing again -- is this one of the more beneficent effects of post-modernism? - making possible some steps toward rehabilitation. The most recent of such steps (and probably the biggest so far) is Thomas Cole: Landscape into History, a major exhibition organized at the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC by William H. Truettner and Alan Wallach, displaying about 70 of Cole's paintings and accompanied by an illustrated catalogue (more useful and informative than such publications often are) including essays by J. Gray Sweeney, Christine Stansall and Sean Wilentz, as well as by Wallach and Truettner themselves.
This exhibit is especially welcome because it makes a serious effort to get beyond that conventional wisdom of the past century or so, and to consider all facets of Cole's work with a more integrated and comprehensive view - closer at least to the painter's own intentions. Wallach, Truettner and their colleagues have also done much to place Cole in his social, political and cultural context in early nineteenth-century America. Their particular interpretations here must still be regarded as limited and tentative - no single formula could encapsulate so protean an artist as Thomas Cole - but there is no question, I think, that they are on the right track in trying to re-integrate "the two Thomas Coles" (as Professor Truettner titles his essay) and in taking Cole seriously as that rarity of the modern world, an artist who actually thinks: about nature and history, life and literature: about humankind and its place in the world.
And as for how all that thinking inflected Cole's work as a painter - well of course, some of his works are technically better than others, and some are more derivative than others; and yes (the conventional wisdom was right to this extent) he developed his most original insights by working closely with some of the particular features of American scenery - features which were then still largely new to European eyes - but then going beyond this, he applied that insight to something both wider and deeper, developing (to invoke a pair of Cole's own favorite terms) a historical "vision" as well as a painterly "view." And that, one might say, is what landscape art, in its most authentic sense, is always trying to be about. For although landscape may sometimes seem to be a naive genre of painting, in reality it is not. Historically, both in China and in Europe (the only two cultures so far to have fully developed landscape at all) it arose very late in the artistic tradition. Only after many centuries of representing more or less distinct individual figures did people begin paying serious attention to the background in which those figures were placed, to the connecting spaces between them: in short, to their total environment. And it seems probable that such developments always depend on, but in turn contribute back to, parallel developments in such other fields as science, philosophy, religion, history and literature. In China, where painters were at least officially expected to be literati, a relation between landscape painting and both religious and philosophical Taoism, for example, has long been taken for granted. In the West (where of course our whole landscape tradition is much younger) such connections have been more problematic; but it is helpful to keep them in mind when trying to understand Thomas Cole, who was so passionately (and sometimes profoundly) religious, literary, and historically-minded a painter: in all of his work, even the most superficially "naive" of his wilderness scenes.
No, there were not
"two Thomas Coles"; but there is an unresolved duality within
Cole himself, and within his work: a division too glaring to be ignored.
Toward the end of his own essay in the catalogue Professor Wallach approaches
this division, rather diffidently, when he writes:
I would put it rather differently. Virtually all of Cole's work is historical; but the difference between, say, The Course of Empire and The Cross and the World is between "natural history" and "supernatural history" - what German theologians in the nineteenth century were already beginning to call Heilsgeschichte ("the History of Salvation") and which they represented as the central theme of all Biblical religion. Another way of describing this "fault line" might be to say that his work was always religious - but that Cole actually believed in (or at least tried to believe in) two different religions at the same time. Christianity (to which, given his own historical origins, Cole could scarcely escape having at least a nominal commitment) co-existed in him with his personal version of that fully religious reverence for Nature which he seems to have believed in most strongly - which has actually been around, in one form or another, a good while longer than Christianity itself, but which was just re-emerging with special force and intensity in Cole's own Romantic period - and which was the real source of Cole's strength and originality as a landscapist.
I'm not sure how conscious Cole was of the tension between his two religious loyalties - my suspicion is that he could not admit it to himself, and kept trying, out of a dogged sense of duty, to impose his familiar but somewhat shop-worn Christianity onto his more impassioned but less articulated Naturalism - but its effects show, often quite painfully, in his more didactically Christian pictures. Few things in the history of art can be more literally excruciating than those crosses glowing like neon signs in the desert -- a "prophecy" come literally true in our time, which Cole, had he lived to see it with his eyes of flesh, would certainly have abhorred! - or those insipidly phosphorescent figures of Christ and of angels (anemic, attenuated derivatives of Raphael and his successors, the bane of so much post-Renaissance Christian art . . . ) which seem to have dropped down like aliens out of a UFO (often accompanied by unnatural laser-like light effects) into an otherwise passably naturalistic landscape in such paintings as The Pilgrim of the Cross at the End of his Journey, or the Angels Ministering to Christ in the Wilderness. Of course one could always argue that such gauche intrusiveness is a respectable artistic convention, meant to suggest the absolutely transcendent and supernal power of the Divine; but such an argument would have already conceded the most important point: that at least in its symbolic language, Cole's Christianity is always referring ultimately to some source of value which does not co-exist comfortably or harmoniously with anything we can readily recognize as "nature", that is, with the world as we know it on Earth. And it could also be argued that much of the awkwardness in these Christian paintings results from a much simpler and more technical cause: Cole's notorious weakness in handling the human figure. It is true that his figures are often inept; but not uniformly so. Generally they are at their worst when Cole seems not to have a clear sense of how his humans fit naturally into their surroundings, when he just sticks them in for more or less clearly arbitrary and symbolic purposes. He sometimes did this even in his "pure" wilderness scenes. (Truettner and Wallach give one especially egregious instance of this: when Cole painted The Falls of the Kaaterskill in 1826 it was already a busy tourist attraction, with the usual clutter of hotels, walkways and protected bridges overlooking the Falls. Cole omitted all that from his painting; instead, he placed a solitary Native American in the scene. This poor Indian is stuck there, quite awkwardly and unaesthetically, leaning against his bow on a bare ledge right in the middle of the painting. Clearly, he serves here only as a self-conscious sign or label, as if one had written a caption: "THIS PICTURE REPRESENTS AMERICA BEFORE THE WHITE MAN".) But cases like that are extreme, and rare. Cole's level of technical accomplishment varied considerably from time to time, but he could and did paint human figures credibly enough when he had reason to: when this was clearly demanded by his conception, and supported by what we would call the "human ecology" of his design.
In his Arcadian pastorals, for instance, human beings (and their artifacts) tend to fit happily into their natural settings. These pictures probably represent Cole's most Utopian vision, the clearest personal declaration of his idea of the Good Life, the True and the Beautiful. For although Cole fully deserves to be recognized as one of the nineteenth century godfathers of the modern environmental movement; although he genuinely loved his wilderness scenes, and certainly contributed largely to that positive re-evaluation of the very idea of "the wilderness" which (in such contrast to the Biblical attitudes of dread and hostility) has been one of the great revolutions in values accomplished over the past couple of centuries; still, Cole would not have qualified as an "environmental extremist", even by the most polemical of definitions current today. He did not assume an irreconcilable antipathy between "Man" and "Nature"; he had none of the misanthropy that sometimes infects the wilder fringes of Deep Ecology. Wallach and Truettner characterize his general attitude as "pessimist conservatism", which is fair enough as far as it goes; but it really doesn't take us very far toward understanding the deepest ranges of Cole's yearnings, his aspirations or his fears. He did fulminate, in writings such as American Scenery, against the "ravages of the axe" in his beloved woods, but his "conservatism" always allowed for a fitting measure of progress, and held out the hope for a harmonious co-existence of the human and the natural: a vision, finally, of Man as an essential (but not tyrannically domineering) part of Nature, hopefully respectful of, and always subject to, the limits of the natural world. This is the vision realized most idyllically in those Arcadian or pastoral scenes, where the boundaries between the natural and the human worlds are shown clearly enough, but generally in soft and mutually yielding contours, not in the harsh lines of a radical confrontation. (Such softness of outline, we should notice, is both a real physical feature of the geologically ancient mountains of Eastern North America, and an instantly recognizable visual signature in most of Cole's paintings; just as those almost incredibly vertical - but equally real - Chinese mountains portrayed by the painters of the Northern Sung School are an equally characteristic "signature" of their work.) In these pictures, Cole's painterly vocabulary begins to express something of the idea of "bio-regionalism" - a term perhaps more familiar to ecologists than to art critics, but one which seems singularly appropriate to the vision of Thomas Cole. These landscapes have been "humanized", it's true, compared to the "wild scenes"; but the humans in them (and their works, especially in the pictures of ruins) have themselves become more integrally a part of the natural scene. And in The Course of Empire - which after all is teeming with human figures - the "fit" is accomplished even more effectively: because it is the over-arching theme of the whole series.
One might almost say that Cole handled his human subjects best when he was able to treat them -- legitimately - as part of the scenery. "Scenery" always was a favorite word of his; and while its theatrical connotations may make some of us uncomfortable, there really is no way around it: Cole's art was theatrical in almost every way. He was well aware of this trait in himself and, not without humor, he sometimes indulged in some fairly broad self-parody about it. In The Architect's Dream (unfortunately not included in this exhibit) he presents us with a fantastic heap of conflicting architectural styles - all framed by a mass of tasselled ropes and drapery clearly suggestive of a stage-curtain. Looking at this picture, I find it impossible not to believe that Cole was having a bit of fun, both with himself and with Ithiel Towne, the architect who commissioned it. (Towne seems to have thought so, too; but lacking Cole's humor, he refused to pay for the picture.) The Architect's Dream is not really typical of Cole's work -- and yet the picture of his which it most closely resembles, in its proto-Cecil B. de Mille monumentality, is The Consummation of Empire, the oversized centerpiece of Cole's best and most personally characteristic series, The Course of Empire - which Wallach and Truettner justly offer as the pièce de résistance of their exhibition.
In this grandest and most completely realized of his "epico-historical works, Cole presented his synoptic and secular vision of the situation of Man-in-Nature, bringing together nearly all his familiar themes and deploying all his painterly styles and vocabularies. In five successive scenes he shows us a civilization progressing from the condition of primitive hunters in the wilderness, through an agrarian/pastoral Arcadia to the megalopolitan pomp of the Consummation - a neo-Classical nightmare suggesting Washington, DC, as it might have been re-designed by Albert Speer - which is then destroyed by war in the fourth scene, to subside into a remarkably tranquil and beautiful set of ruins in the fifth, the only picture of the set from which living human beings are entirely absent. ("Desolation" is the title of this piece, but somehow one does not feel that Cole really felt all that desolate while painting it: this view of the natural world placidly reclaiming its territory from the fallen city is the most hauntingly beautiful picture of the series.) Constant through all these scenes are two features of the natural setting: a precipitous mountain, always visible in the distance, and the long narrow bay around which the city eventually grows. "Mountains and water" - clear symbols of an elemental duality; and, according to Chinese ideas (which Cole may never have heard of, but which he so often seems to have paralleled in his own way) the defining terms of landscape itself. . . .
It is pretty clear that Cole regarded the urban proliferation of the Consummation as a pathological excrescence on the face of the Earth. The really interesting question is, at what level - social, political, cultural, religious or technical - did he believe this pathology to be rooted? Wallach and Truettner stress the political dimension: a warning, rooted in Classical Republican theory, against the "excesses of democracy", mob rule and Caesarism in Andrew Jackson's America. In a way, this re-iterates (though of course with much more scholarly depth) the reviewers of Cole's own time, who tended to focus on the question, "What does this work say about the prospects for our Republic?" (Cole was, among other things, a nationalist artist, and himself a formidable symbol of national pride, at least to the more culturally minded of his compatriots. This accounts, after all, for a large part of the fame he enjoyed in his lifetime.) But while I'm convinced that Cole did devote some of his attention to such political concerns, that is really only the most parochial side of this truly ecumenical artist. Ultimately, The Course of Empire is a religious work, but not a Christian one. Christianity is an explicitly human-centered religion, and in some ways even an egotistical one, fixated on the fate of the individual soul. But if The Course of Empire preaches anything, it preaches something more like the ancient Greek admonitions against hubris, the baneful excess of human ambition, against which the only defense is a scrupulous observance of the intrinsic limits of all things. To mention only one poignant sign of this lesson, Cole plays a fascinating game with his own signature in The Course of Empire. He works it into each of the first four scenes as an inscription on one or another of the stones, growing larger and more elaborately self-assertive in each successive view, until at last in the Destruction it flares out in grotesque and agitated lettering on the base of the colossal headless statue which dominates that composition - and then, among the ruins of the Desolation, it is nowhere to be found. I read this as one of Cole's more transparent allegories: against the rampant egotism which can infect all of us, even Christians and artists. . . . Such moralizing was often enough typical of Cole, and not always accomplished with the same finesse; but at its strongest his vision went much deeper than his Whiggish politics, and deeper than his Evangelical Christianity: to an apprehension of humanity as a species fully embedded in its natural matrix, which we may violate in our arrogance and egotism, but only at the risk of our own extinction.
Copyright (c) 1995
by Carl Pfluger.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 4/29/2009 7:54 PM | Add Comment|
OF "THE GREAT WAR" Nov.11, 1918, 11:00AM
essay by Johnes Ruta
young British soldier killed in action one week before the war ended was
the poet Wilfrid Owen, aged 25, killed at the Battle of the Sambre on November
4, 1918. The news of his death reached his family just as the town's church
bells rang out the peace.
My great-grandmother and aunt aged 3 named Esperanza ("Hope") were killed in the Austrian shelling of Farrara, Italy in 1916. How many millions of lives were never lived because of this war ? Growing up in the 1950s, my mom taught us to observe a Minute of Silence at 11 AM on every November 11, to pray for the millions who died. This war was a catastrophe beyond "Biblical proportions."
"The Parable of The Old Man and the Young" by Wilfrid Owen.
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
But the old man would not so, but slew his
After the Serbian assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo 1914, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary, Czar Nicholas II of Russia (ally of Serbia), King George V of England (ally of France), and even Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (ally of Austria), being friends and cousins, were not themselves keen for war, and corresponded to cool down the furor of the Serbian incident. But these rival colonial-industrial powers were hottly competive for foreign colonies and their resources. The upward chain of alliances sucked them all into the maelstrom: the Kaiser's ministers pushed heavily to employ the munitions manufacturers with whom they colluded, and their military command had waitied since 1905 to execute their strategic Schlieffen Plan to again attack France.
In France, "The
Front" quickly became a merciless killing-field to which millions
of young troops were marched from all sides to be slaughtered with never
the advance of a foot of territory ! The Treaty of Versailles demanded
immense "Reparations" payments from Germany which led directly
to the collapse of the German Mark in 1923, and so to the despair and
bitterness that set the stage for Hitler, and so to the next catastrophe.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 11/11/2008 6:11 AM | Add Comment|