Art is constantly changing …

Art is constantly changing, according to many factors; and as perceptions of the Human Condition have changed over time, so has Art. The presentation of subjective/objective figurative art reflecting “inside looking outward vs. outside looking inward” has also changed over time in relation to the theme, style, and techniques used.

The attainment of more knowledge invariably opens for more understanding of the complexities of that which one has yet to comprehend: “the more I think I know, the more that I understand how little I actually know”. And that is certainly the case with me as I begin to wind down my #ArtSafari of Europe’s greatest painting and sculpture collections … in my attempt to understand the art historical influences behind my own art, and Western contemporary art in general. These influences are both obvious, and not-so-obvious, and they span many epochs of human individual and collective development.

Art is largely both a reflection of human consciousness of the period, as well as resistance to the known … and — perhaps at its very best — a push for changes in Human Consciousness. I am fascinated by the roles of economic theory, religion, politics,  psychology, and Human vs. God Consciousness throughout art history. The classical, Baroque and Modern periods alone have heralded enormous art stylistic and technical movements (oftentimes back and forth) between levels of abstraction, subjectivity vs. objectivity, realistic vs. semi-realistic, degrees and expressions of the geometrical/technological, dependent upon these conditions and influences. The Church, political ideologies and artist/art benefactors have historically influenced who and what art succeeds in the various periods — be they Classical and Baroque, or Impressionism, or art inspired by the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions or political movements such as Socialism.

The dark paintings from earlier epochs were certainly influenced by the ravages of eg. The Plague and constant warfare, both of which have essentially since been eradicated and lessened by advancements in science and technology. With modernity, the ability of artists to travel in order to learn, borrow and steal techniques, themes and styles of artists in other countries has accordingly steadily increased to a larger degree, and faster — thus resulting in more universal imagery. Previously, religious Christian myths were largely spread through art commissioned by the Church, and later political ideologies have been spread universally through technological advances and politico-social movements such as Socialism and Liberalism.

Figurative paintings have likewise successively become realistic, abstract, and now semi-realistic … and back again … due to many developments eg. photography, Realism as a movement and ideology, and advancements in human psychology … as well as industrialization. All of these advancements have over time affected what artists paint and the styles and techniques employed, eg. Malevich-Impressionism-Cubism-Photorealistic paintings … and onwards to today’s figurative subjectivity, where the introspective Self has a greater role than in many Baroque religious works where subservience to God has greater significance than humans as complete entities unto themselves (today). For example, much of  Caravaggio’s art was created for the exhibition in churches rather than in other environments such as art museums, urban environments, on the Internet, etc. I believe that the effectiveness of his intimate dark backgrounds works quite well in the dark environment of churches where contemplation on the hopelessness of the Human Condition is solely eradicated and consoled by salvation and penitence (by way of allegiance to God/the Church); and that this was the intention of both the artist and those who commissioned these works. While I admire many of Caravaggio’s paintings that I have seen in art museums, those that I have seen in darkened churches carry a mystique that enhances his ingenious work with Light and Darkness.

Likewise, new technologies and digitalization have greatly influenced the current trends of mass-producing photographed copies of paintings influences both styles, techniques; and the art market — in ways that far exceed the reach of numbered etchings, printmaking, and photography of yesteryears.

As perceptions of the Human Condition have changed over time, so has Art. My #ArtSafari project — visiting Europe’s most notable art museums, churches with art masterpieces, art galleries, street art, and contemporary artists’ studios, has thus left me with many questions that influence my own understanding of my generation’s art. One example of questions might be the effects of Lutheranism upon religious painting. I have seen many religious paintings where known personalities of the day had been inserted into biblical/Christian mythological settings, thus elevating these persons’ status to a level closer to the Divine. This could perhaps be seen as a form of blasphemy by some non-Catholics. (Olivia Facini has published a very interesting article entitled “The Impact of the Protestant Reformation on Renaissance Art”, which I recommend.)

Other questions might include queries as to back and forth and inter-national approaches to the realistic vs. the less realistic in figurative art etc. And yet other questions are related to how art is developing as regards today’s challenges and understanding of Consciousness from subjective and scientific perspectives and understanding, eg. the perception of the world as being flat influenced art previously; but new scientific, economic, political and psychological understanding also influences art today. Since the Industrial Revolution, infotech, biotech, and technological advancements have also influenced perspectives on the Human Condition — and the way art is made and presented.

This journey has influenced my own art as regards experimentation with various styles, themes, and techniques. Here are just a few of my paintings that are influenced by science, infotech, biotech and the New Human Consciousness / New World Consciousness that I see unfolding at a galloping pace:

 

Painting: Oil on Canvas. “The making of a Replicant: Human Pod Project — developing embryos”, oil on canvas, 65 x90 cm., 2019. This challenging work — both conceptually and technically — is a commentary on biotechnology and the future of human design and reproduction.
Painting: Oil on Canvas. “X, Y and Z Generations … in Troubled Times”, is a series of three self-portraits, challenging the ways I see myself vs. the ways I wish others to see/experience me. Today’s challenges are many, and the successive generations barely have time for needed self-reflection in the face of the daily, fast-changing technological, climate and other challenges. In this painting, I invite the viewer to face himself/herself in this world where faces and Art are often just another image. I personally experience this painting as scary and uncomfortable. What I mean by saying that the painting is “scary” is that it confirms the dilemma that I face in today’s crazy World — an “unfinished symphony” that is essentially never to be totally understood. There were never to be any figures totally painted because the pictures represent people/humanity/me in development and unraveling. The pic of me all dressed up in a fur coat is the “show guy” presenting himself to The World … (x-generation). The y-generation me with the green face is the creative and thinking me — absorbed in my own thoughts and ideas, but battling against those imposed upon me by living in The World. And the z-generation is me blocking out and hiding from The World, the mental bombardments of images, coined phrases, propaganda, advertisements, and the glaring and oppressive heatwaves and sunlight, etc. That image is in the largest state of disintegration, the skin coloring depicting a body that is almost lifeless and the head partially covered by a veil of mourning. Of course, all of the images are (as is the Internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, mainstream media and alternative media) manipulations — leaving out ears (i.e. really hearing and listening) and other details in order “to guide” the viewer into focusing upon the sunglasses, clothing, and accessories (headlines) instead of seeing the person (content) inside … and we are consequently in a continuous struggle for self-marketing and esteem vs. incompletion and dissatisfaction with systems of ethics and values that both constrain and embrace us. The painting is “The Scream” that was never really expressed outwardly. And the minimalistic pastel-colored background is the general environment of denial — “everything is normal” — that acts as a sedative, more than inspiration. NB. See Urban Dictionary for definitions of Generations X, Y, and Z.
“Talking heads / Social media”, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas, 2018, is all about “the Internet and social media buzz” (slander and gossip, #hatersgonnahate, #lookatme etc.) in black and white.
 
Painting: Oil on canvas. “Photo booth”, 90 x 65 cm., oil on canvas is about the “old-style” selfie-taking … sitting in a photo booth and being photographed three times. I have attempted to duplicate the feeling of taking photos in a booth — all the same, yet slightly different — in order to capture the spontaneity, subjectivity and self-appraisal of The Moment. I also wanted to play with “graphics” in a painterly and semi-realistic way that explores the nakedNess of the experience of being trapped in a box, with little room or time to vary sitting position and expression.
Emptiness giving birth to Nothingness, oil on canvas, 100×80 cm.
“Being = Nothingness”, 40×40 cm., oil on canvas, 2017.
E is greater than mc squared – Time travel is indeed possible!

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