Les nuages — à la fin des temps…

Quel sera notre poison de prédilection ? Que disent les nuages ?

Climate change, nuclear war, global economic collapse, anarchy, another Corona virus … What will be our poison of choice?

saturn’s blues.

when the moon is in Fresno

and the sun sets a purplish

haze over early-autumn skies,

the cold winds of Hell

breathe heavily against

the hopes of local heroes

and the women who made them.

farmers stare off into the fields

without realizing, and housewives

pull their young close to their

bosoms – suddenly and

without explanation.

intuitively they sense the onset

of a long and severe influence;

a time of hardship and hindrance

when the faith and courage of

more than a few good men

and women are put to test.

the carousel is out-of-control,

and in the whirlwind confusion

crops will fail, loved ones will

pass away, jobs will be lost

and the simplest of dreams will

be stifled by saturn’s blues:

a mocking nursery rhyme telling

of horror and despair, and sung

over and over again with endless

variations on the same cruel theme.

(from Adam Donaldson Powell’s “Collected poems and stories”, 2005.)

CLOUDBURST.

breakdancing clouds
laughingly roar
with all the grace
of shattering glass.

(from “Collected poems and stores”)

SHELTER.

When dusk acquiesces
to the shelter of night,
overpowering the
songs of crickets and
silent movements
of creepy-crawlers,
a quiet calm
overtakes
the ruminations of
my psyche
allowing soul regression
to dance
in the matrix
between experience
and remembrance.

FRAGMENTS.

Dulled slivers of emotion
no longer entangled with
words flutter and scurry
out-of-sequence.
Once air-bound, the
footloose fragments of
a life gone past seek
resolution and release by
eluding recognition and
assuaging the sharpness of reality.
And quite relentlessly these
now-transformed bits of
parchment confetti find new
definition by recreating history.

(from “Three-legged Waltz”)

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 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!
“Papa volante / Papa imbronciato”, olio su tela, 50 x 50 cm.
«Secundo fluctus» (Second Wave), 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. The theme of this self-portrait is the impossible dream that is never finally achieved — no matter how much success we or others may think we have achieved, the dissatisfaction is always there. That has been the plight of most artists throughout human history; and it is no less today — for artists, and for non-artists. The tremendous Saturn-influence enveloping us at this time insists upon the renewal of our dreams, our motives, our ways of seeing, acting, living … imposing a heavy reality check upon us all. It is not all negative from an overall perspective, but it takes a higher degree of ingenuity, creativity, and persistence in order to create the much-needed and long-overdue New Consciousness. This dark expressionist self-portrait entitled “Second Wave”, provides a subjective inside-looking-out acknowledgment of the present experience. The intention is to document the thick muddy gelé of fear + careful hopefulness that we are all enduring in this Winter of darkness. The observant viewer will note that the face is itself a mask, as is the masking Darkness.
“Coffin Portrait / Lockdown — Summer fun”, oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm., 2020, the second title is perhaps self-explanatory. But it doubles as a Coffin Portrait (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin_portrait). This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.

I Stillhetens Tid.

«I Stillhetens Tid», stilleben,
50 x 50 cm., olje på lerret, 2022.

“I Stillhetens Tid” (In the Time of Silence), stilleben, 50 x 50 cm, oil on canvas, 2022.

“I Stillhetens Tid”, er en semi-realistic / abstrakt geometrisk fremstilling av mørketiden vi finner oss i etter to år med COVID-19 pandemoni, krig, sosial-politisk tilbakegang, ultrakonservatisme, økonomisk nedgang … og de mange trusler som hersker (miljøkriser, energikriser, vannmangel, matmangel, konkurser, dyrearter som dør ut med mer). Vi kjenner godt på teppet av mørkhet som demper optimismen, samt skyldfølelser. Ja, det er vi mennesker som har satt verden i krise, og Yin-Yang syklusen sitter nå fast i Yin delen. Det virker håpløst, og tegningen er skrevet på veggen. 

Denne stilleben setter fokus på våre ønsker om å gardere det grunnleggende: det enkle og sunne, stillhet, mindre forbruk av elektrisitet og varmeovn, og sikkerhet. Er vi stille nok kan vi forhåpentligvis redusere risiko for noen katastrofer i øyeblikket. Mørkhet og stillhet er da en trøst, mens vi forsøker å bevise overfor oss selv at “dette går nok over”. Men innerst inne vet vi at vi har gått for langt, og at livet på Jorden aldri igjen blir som før. 

Og det kan være bra, hvis det får oss til å endre på våre tanker, mål og vaner.

Her har det også vært viktig for meg å gi stillebensjangeren en ny funksjonalitet utover naturalisme og teknisk bravader, løfte dens betydning til moderne stil og en mer sosiopolitisk kommentar.

… og så dekker vi bordet med to (overmodne) paprikaer i en treskål, på en enkel hvit duk, demper lysene og prøver å overbevise oss selv om at selv en liten bot kan gjøre en forskjell.

English version:

“In the Time of Silence”, still life, 50 x 50 cm, oil on canvas, 2022.

“In Stillhetens Tid”, is a semi-realistic / abstract geometric representation of the dark times we find ourselves in after two years of COVID-19 pandemonium, war, socio-political decline, ultra-conservatism, economic decline … and the many threats that prevail (environmental crises, energy crises, water shortages, food shortages, bankruptcies, animal species dying out and more). We are well aware of the blanket of darkness that dampens optimism, as well as feelings of guilt. Yes, it is we humans who have put the world in crisis, and the Yin-Yang cycle is now stuck in the Yin part. It seems hopeless and the highly-probable outcome is written on the wall.

This still life focuses on our desire to preserve the basics: the simple and healthy, silence, less consumption of electricity and heating, and safety. If we are quiet enough, we can hopefully reduce the risk of some disasters at the moment. Darkness and silence are then a comfort, while we try to prove to ourselves that “this will pass”. But deep down we know that we have gone too far, and that life on Earth will never be the same again.

And that can be good, if it makes us change our thoughts, goals and habits.

Here it has also been important for me to give the still life genre a new functionality beyond naturalism and technical bravado, elevating its significance to modern style and a more socio-political commentary.

… and so, we set the table with two (over-ripe) paprikas in a wooden bowl, on a simple white tablecloth, dim the lights, and try to convince ourselves that even a small penance can make a difference.

Version française :

“In the Time of Silence”, nature morte, 50 x 50 cm, huile sur toile, 2022.

” In Stillhetens Tid “, est une représentation semi-réaliste / abstraite géométrique des temps sombres dans lesquels nous nous trouvons après deux années de pandémonium COVID-19, de guerre, de déclin socio-politique, d’ultra-conservatisme, de déclin économique… et des nombreuses menaces qui prévalent (crises environnementales, crises énergétiques, pénuries d’eau, pénuries alimentaires, faillites, disparition d’espèces animales et plus encore). Nous sommes bien conscients des nuages sombres, ainsi que des sentiments de culpabilité.

Oui, c’est nous, les humains, qui avons mis le monde en crise, et le cycle Yin-Yang est maintenant bloqué dans la partie Yin. La situation semble désespérée et l’issue hautement probable est écrite sur le mur.

Cette nature morte met l’accent sur notre désir de préserver les éléments de base : la simplicité et la santé, le silence, la réduction de la consommation d’électricité et de chauffage, et la sécurité. Si nous sommes suffisamment silencieux, nous pouvons espérer réduire le risque de certaines catastrophes du moment. L’obscurité et le silence sont alors un réconfort, tandis que nous essayons de nous prouver que “ça va passer”. Mais au fond de nous, nous savons que nous sommes allés trop loin, et que la vie sur Terre ne sera plus jamais la même.

Et cela peut être une bonne chose, si cela nous fait changer nos pensées, nos objectifs et nos habitudes. Ici, il a également été important pour moi de donner au genre de la nature morte une nouvelle fonctionnalité au-delà du naturalisme et de la bravade technique, en élevant sa signification à un style moderne et à un commentaire plus sociopolitique.

… et donc, nous mettons la table avec deux paprikas (trop mûrs) dans un bol en bois, sur une simple nappe blanche, nous tamisons les lumières et nous essayons de nous convaincre que même une petite pénitence peut faire la différence.

Versión en español:

“En el tiempo del silencio”, bodegón, 50 x 50 cm, óleo sobre lienzo, 2022.

“In Stillhetens Tid”, es una representación semi-realista/abstracta geométrica de los tiempos oscuros en los que nos encontramos después de dos años de pandemónium COVID-19, guerra, decadencia sociopolítica, ultraconservadurismo, decadencia económica… y las muchas amenazas que prevalecen (crisis medioambientales, crisis energéticas, escasez de agua, escasez de alimentos, quiebras, extinción de especies animales y más). Somos conscientes de la nube oscura, así como del sentimiento de culpa. Sí, somos los humanos los que hemos puesto el mundo en crisis, y el ciclo Yin-Yang está ahora atascado en la parte Yin. La situación parece desesperada y el resultado, muy probable, está escrito en la pared.

Este bodegón se centra en nuestro deseo de preservar lo básico: la sencillez y la salud, el silencio, la reducción de la electricidad y la calefacción, y la seguridad. Si estamos lo suficientemente tranquilos, podemos esperar reducir el riesgo de algunas de las catástrofes del momento. La oscuridad y el silencio son entonces un consuelo, mientras intentamos demostrarnos a nosotros mismos que “ya pasará”. Pero en el fondo sabemos que hemos ido demasiado lejos, y que la vida en la Tierra nunca volverá a ser la misma.

Y eso puede ser algo bueno, si nos hace cambiar nuestros pensamientos, objetivos y hábitos.

En este caso, también era importante para mí dar al género de la naturaleza muerta una nueva funcionalidad más allá del naturalismo y el realismo técnico, elevando su significado a un estilo moderno y a un comentario más sociopolítico.

…y así ponemos la mesa con dos paprikas (demasiado maduras) en un cuenco de madera, sobre un sencillo mantel blanco, atenuamos las luces e intentamos convencernos de que incluso una pequeña penitencia puede marcar la diferencia.

Versione italiana:

“In Stillhetens Tid”, natura morta, 50 x 50 cm, olio su tela, 2022.

“In Stillhetens Tid” è una rappresentazione semi-realistica/astratta geometrica dei tempi bui in cui ci troviamo dopo due anni di pandemonio COVID-19, di guerra, di decadenza socio-politica, di ultra-conservatorismo, di decadenza economica… e delle tante minacce imperanti (crisi ambientali, crisi energetiche, scarsità d’acqua, scarsità di cibo, bancarotte, estinzione di specie animali e altro). Siamo consapevoli della nube oscura, così come del senso di colpa. Sì, siamo noi umani ad aver messo in crisi il mondo e il ciclo Yin-Yang è ora bloccato sul lato Yin. La situazione sembra senza speranza e il risultato, molto probabilmente, è scritto sul muro.

Questa natura morta si concentra sul nostro desiderio di preservare le basi: semplicità e salute, tranquillità, riduzione dell’elettricità e del riscaldamento e sicurezza. Se siamo abbastanza silenziosi, possiamo sperare di ridurre il rischio di alcune delle catastrofi del momento. Il buio e il silenzio sono allora un conforto, mentre cerchiamo di dimostrare a noi stessi che “passerà”. Ma nel profondo sappiamo che siamo andati troppo oltre e che la vita sulla Terra non sarà più la stessa.

E questo può essere un bene, se ci fa cambiare pensieri, obiettivi e abitudini.

In questo caso, per me era anche importante dare al genere della natura morta una nuova funzionalità al di là del naturalismo e del realismo tecnico, elevandone il significato a uno stile moderno e a un commento più socio-politico.

… e così prepariamo la tavola con due paprika (troppo maturi) in una ciotola di legno, su una semplice tovaglia bianca, abbassiamo le luci e cerchiamo di convincerci che anche una piccola penitenza può fare la differenza.

Versão portuguesa:

“No Tempo do Silêncio”, naturezas mortas, 50 x 50 cm, óleo sobre tela, 2022.

“In Stillhetens Tid”, é uma representação semi-realista / abstracta geométrica dos tempos negros em que nos encontramos após dois anos de pandemónio da COVID-19, guerra, declínio sócio-político, ultra-conservadorismo, declínio económico … e as muitas ameaças que prevalecem (crises ambientais, crises energéticas, escassez de água, escassez de alimentos, falências, extinção de espécies animais e muito mais). Estamos bem conscientes do manto de escuridão que amortece o optimismo, assim como os sentimentos de culpa. Sim, somos nós, humanos, que colocámos o mundo em crise, e o ciclo Yin-Yang está agora preso na parte do Yin. Parece desesperançoso e o resultado altamente provável está escrito na parede.

Esta natureza morta centra-se no nosso desejo de preservar o básico: o simples e saudável, o silêncio, menos consumo de electricidade e aquecimento, e a segurança. Se formos suficientemente silenciosos, esperamos poder reduzir o risco de alguns desastres neste momento. A escuridão e o silêncio são então um conforto, enquanto tentamos provar a nós próprios que “isto vai passar”. Mas no fundo sabemos que fomos longe demais, e que a vida na Terra nunca mais voltará a ser a mesma.

E isso pode ser bom, se isso nos fizer mudar os nossos pensamentos, objectivos e hábitos.

Aqui também tem sido importante para mim dar ao género natureza-morta uma nova funcionalidade para além do naturalismo e da bravata técnica, elevando o seu significado ao estilo moderno e a um comentário mais sócio-político.

… e assim, colocamos a mesa com duas paprikas (demasiado maduras) numa tigela de madeira, numa simples toalha de mesa branca, apagamos as luzes, e tentamos convencer-nos de que mesmo uma pequena penitência pode fazer a diferença.

Versió en català:
“En el temps del silenci”, bodegó, 50  x 50 cm, oli sobre llenç, 2022.

“In Stillhetens Tid”, és una representació semi-realista/abstracta geometrica dels temps foscos en què ens trobem després de dos anys de pandemònium COVID-19, guerra, decadència sociopolítica, ultraconservadurisme, decadència econòmica… i les moltes amenaces que prevalen ( crisis mediambientals, crisis energètiques, escassetat d'aigua, escassetat d'aliments, fallides, extinció d'espècies animals i més). Som conscients del núvol fosc, així com del sentiment de culpa. Sí, som els humans els que hem posat el món en crisi, i el cicle Yin-Yang està ara encallat a la part Yin. La situació sembla desesperada i el resultat, molt probable, està escrit a la paret.

Aquest bodegó se centra en el nostre desig de preservar allò bàsic: la senzillesa i la salut, el silenci, la reducció de l'electricitat i la calefacció, i la seguretat. Si estem prou tranquils, podem esperar reduir el risc d'algunes de les catàstrofes del moment. La foscor i el silenci són llavors un consol, mentre intentem demostrar-nos a nosaltres mateixos que “ja passarà”. Però en el fons sabem que hem anat massa lluny, i que la vida a la Terra mai no tornarà a ser la mateixa.

I això pot ser una cosa bona, si ens fa canviar els nostres pensaments, objectius i hàbits.

En aquest cas, també era important per a mi donar al gènere de la natura morta una nova funcionalitat més enllà del naturalisme i el realisme tècnic, elevant-ne el significat a un estil modern ia un comentari més sociopolític.

…i així posem la taula amb dos pebres (massa madurs) en un bol de fusta, sobre unes senzilles estovalles blanques, atenuem els llums i intentem convèncer-nos que fins i tot una petita penitència pot marcar la diferència.

🇳🇴🇺🇸🇫🇷🇪🇸🇮🇹🇵🇹

Playa de Adarro, Vilanova i la Geltrú