Welcome to another “extreme blog” by Adam Donaldson Powell

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PERSONAL STATEMENT ABOUT EXTREME ART AND LITERATURE (and why I love semi-realism): 

“Extreme literature” can be philosophical, political, religious, sexually-oriented, profane, or just downright ‘dangerous’ because it rocks others’ boat(s) personally. Not all literature is “pretty”, and even humour can be considered provocative. Many authors have works they (and others) consider to be “extreme”. All throughout the history of art and literature, artists and writers have pressed against and played with society’s tolerances – in both “liberal” epochs, “conservative” epochs and (as now) in states of “moral confusion”, where Western concepts of freedom of speech sometimes butt against national and local cultural mores and social politics; and where danger lurks and thrives on non-specific and situational social codes and fears.

The concept of ‘EXTREME ART AND LITERATURE’ changes all the time. What is actually ‘extreme’ today – in a mixture of globalised, regionalised, nationalised and localised perspectives? My own opinion is that ‘extreme art and literature’ today takes its starting point in the accepted banalities of everyday life, experiences and consciousness on the respective and combined levels (social, philosophical, political, economical, sexual and spiritual). Contemporary ‘extreme art / literature’ no longer attempts to shock in an obvious way, but rather entices the public to feel that he / she is a ‘member’ of the experiential understanding and consciousness, only to interject a “triggering” aspect that creates a sense of uncomfortableness caused by the realization that one has been busted by a banality. These “trigger mechanisms” are (in fact) integral parts of the art itself – often passing by in fleeting moments, sometimes blended in with an obsessive and “flat” (journalistic or photojournalistic) expression or a long tirade of banalities that do not even pretend to be surrealistic. These small “electrical shock” triggers will hopefully ignite an inner experience within the public so that the viewer / reader begins to investigate his / her own personal reality, his / her actual contributions to a collective reality and hopefully to re-evaluate his / her own concept of what one prefers to create as an individual and collective reality. The illusion of spiritual and emotion separation (the illusion that we are all separate, individual and self-sustaining entities that can determine our roles on Terra or in the Interlife totally without contact or influence with / from others) is a vital element here, and that common illusion is therefore “fertile ground” for artists. Here we artists and authors can play, provoke, prevaricate, entice, seduce and fool the audience to believe in us as a part of “themselves”, and then trigger the reader / viewer to consider the possibility that there might be (in fact) a miscommunication or misconception running loose … a sense of everyday reality that is inconsistent or which has consequences that one was never aware of.

Perhaps the most meaningful and interactive way to help another person to ‘wake up’ from their perceptual drowsiness is to enter into their everyday dreams and illusions (their banalities) and suddenly say “BOO !!!” Artists and authors who attempt to shock through their art with the blatantly obvious, often thus fail to explore and exploit the deeper, symbolic depths of the subconscious and the more mystical elements that make up our everyday and banal thoughts, activities, attitudes etc., and therefore are denied “personal access” by some viewers / readers who may consider the art to be too intellectual, too elitist, too directly confrontational, or too foreign. Sex and religion are often used today in art and literature as “shock elements”. It is not necessarily sex or religion which are provocative or interesting in themselves, but rather the unspoken and quietly accepted perceptions that we chain ourselves to unquestionably, and which can totally be set in chaos just by the artist and author changing or adding one simple element or context that we do not feel belongs in our reality-defining “picture”.

‘Extreme art and literature’ is thus not blatantly provocative in itself; it rather shows the audience the possible ramifications of acceptance, non-involvement, personal meanings and behaviour by confronting us with triggered or mixed in ‘extreme’ moments, and then lets the audience choose to begin its own personal creative life process of evalution and re-creation (if desired) … without commentary or guidance.

When I recently presented myself to Marina Abramovic as a “retired activist” she responded by asking me if an activist can ever be finished with activism. Of course, she is right. The process of rebellion is nothing more than one intermittent set of activities and actions in a constant redefining and assertion of the Self, both individually and collectively. Art is the ultimate expression of the process of rebellion. If an artist loses that quality, he/she “dies” in a certain way. My art and literature are not just extensions of me … they are my created persona: a sweet mixture of heaven and hell, with a pinch of mediocrity for flavoring.

Adam Donaldson Powell, Norway

(Reprinted from 2014, but my philosophy is still the same.)

 

 

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Visit Adam Donaldson Powell’s other sites as well:

ESSAYS ON ACTIVISM FOR A SHIFT OF CONSCIOUSNESS

PRESENTING THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

ADAM DONALDSON POWELL’S ONLINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION: DOCUMENTING THE SHIFT

NEW WORKS – 2014

PsychedelicAdam

Is it really so dangerous to talk about your art and writing?

“It seems to me, that the modern painter cannot express his age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.” — Jackson Pollock

Reflections by Adam Donaldson Powell:

After having been told for decades to “never explain or discuss your art or writing” I am doing just that here on WordPress — this in order to share with others my thought processes, the philosophical questions behind my work, and the technical decisions thereof. That also enables me to do a bit of writing — combining poetic prose with small essays as texts accompanying my visual art. As with my writing, my art is always indifferent to currently popular trends of style but always socially relevant. It is not for everyone, as I intentionally aim to provoke thought on some level. And as we know, many resist deeper levels of thought (or thinking at all beyond superficial and personal needs and preoccupations). Is it still okay to just want to find sensual pleasure in a work of art, without being burdened by many questions and socio-political issues? Yes, of course. We all need a respite from time to time, but in my opinion, Art is always about possibilities — including diverse possible interpretations.

Another thing I now do is to preview the coming attractions on my main website. I do this to commit myself to an idea and its execution. Writing and making visual art are about constant decisionmaking, and while the final results are important, they are — in my opinion — mostly a compromise between various decisions made along the way. Understanding literature and art are thus more fully possible when one understands that ideas and expressions do not always come out of thin air, or merely by chance or through innate talent. An artist and a writer are like orchestra conductors, in that we are constantly conducting a huge symphony which consists of many voices, sounds, and ideas. This pertains to even the shortest forms of literature (haiku) and art (minimalism). But do not be deceived; the simplest expressions of literature and art require the most precision and talent. As with music, all sections of a literary or visual composition must be executed with equal mastery. One section cannot seem effortless while others feel belabored. Thus many writers and artists appreciate criticism most from “their literary and artistic colleagues”. They understand more of the total process involved and most likely dare to pose relevant questions and criticisms of interest and help to the writer or artist. For me, exploring the vast area between photorealism and abstraction gives me the most pleasure. The possible degrees of semi-realism are endless. Such expression is provocative because it forces us to step outside of how we think others see us and how we wish to be seen — beyond any photographic moment that is frozen in Time, and more into the psychological aspects of our Being. There are relevant parallels in literature, eg. stream of consciousness writing in novels, various technical diversions in poetry designed to function as asides, or even just to jolt the Reader into another possible reality, etc. And then it is no longer a bad thing to talk about one’s writing process or ideas because the total process is by definition still mysterious and indescribable. But like most modern art museums, just a hint of background information can be the ticket other Thinkers need in order to accompany you on their brief journey into our own Mind and Art.

L’Être et le néant.

“Being = Nothingness”, 40×40 cm., oil on canvas, 2017.

My painting tribute to Sartre (Existentialism), and to Kazimir Malevich (Suprematism): “L’Être = le néant”, 40 x 40 cm., oil on canvas, 2017, Adam Donaldson Powell.

I was so proud after having finally struggled through the abstractions of Sartre’s «L’Être et le néant» as a young man. But alas I then shortly afterwards saw a news documentary on him where he dismissed much of the importance of the book. I was devastated — selfishly so, but still … I get it.

When Dr. Santosh Kumar published his amazing literary criticism of my own literary output I was shocked and embarrassed. It is easier to fight for recognition than to have that rebellious creative instinct squashed by general acceptance and praise. Since then, I have learned that many great innovative and free-thinking authors and artists were/are creative and reactive experimenters rather than geniuses who have discovered «truths embedded in historical stone for an Eternity.» We create as a means of survival in a world which we often are out of tempo with. We need the constant resistance that keeps our creative adrenalin going, as well as a flow of new ideas, new visions and new ways to re-create ourselves … Yes, almost as if our very survival is dependent upon it.

Authors and artists have the right to disassociate themselves even from our own publicly acclaimed “masterpieces”. Just think of how Beethoven cringed at hearing amateurs perform his popular ditties everywhere he went. “Fur Elise”, “Moonlight Sonata” … etc. Nonetheless, I still love the literature of Sartre, Camus, Leduc, Proust, Kafka, Genet etc. — even though I now see their “genius” in the perspective of the times in which they lived, thought and worked.

Verily, we are not primarily artists or authors, but rather Thinkers who use art and literature as a framework to temporarily frame and exhibit the sea of existentialism in which we all float, swim, drown and think. Embracing the concepts voiced by Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir etc. gives us all the treasured «condemnation to be free». Truly, we are mainly thought, consciousness and Spirit. The rest is meaningfully NON-existent.

— Adam Donaldson Powell

«In irony a man annihilates what he posits within one and the same act; he leads us to believe in order not to be believed; he affirms to deny and denies to affirm; he creatives a positive object but it has no being other than its nothingness.»
— Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness

«Art no longer cares to serve the state and religion, it no longer wishes to illustrate the history of manners, it wants to have nothing further to do with the object, as such, and believes that it can exist, in and for itself, without “things” (that is, the “time-tested well-spring of life”).»
— Kasimir Malevich, The Non-Objective World: The Manifesto of Suprematism

«The square is not a subconscious form. It is the creation of intuitive reason. The face of the new art. The square is a living, regal infant. The first step of pure creation in art.
— Kasimir Malevich

homage to malevich
Tribute to Malevich (Oil on canvas).

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Emptiness giving birth to Nothingness, oil on canvas, 100×80 cm.

Letting go (of love).
Letting go (of love), 40×40 cm., oil on canvas is about the process of trying to move on — without a loved one. The memories of that person become blurred, the pain is, romanticised, the sense of betrayal and anger gradually become replaced by arrogant self-pity and then denial that love ever was (in fact) mutual. Solace and personal redemption are found written as graffiti on the wall — in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: “We are condemned to be free” (here in Spanish: “Estamos condenados a ser libres”).

the making of a poet
Dr. Santosh Kumar’s book on the poetry of Adam Donaldson Powell.