How do I experience art?
I think it was Picasso who said that a great painting is one you can put a mirror to and see its breath.
This is how I experience art on a subjective level. If it hits my gut I feel that it is successful and I experience it. The work has to be alive for me in my intuitive realm. Although schooled in the objective through the academia, I find it to be a trained response it is not how I really witness art. That’s why at times I have trouble with conceptual art I find that it comes from the mind not the heart. Although, many times I think conceptual art is clever it never sends waves through me reminding me that I am holistic creature of mind, body, and spirit.
I am a student of sacred art and I am amazed at the power these ancient objects house. I feel Art should become a vessel for the artist intention and well as the viewer’s reverence. Having traveled around the globe to various sacred sites. I have felt and it never fails to startle me the power of art on a guttural level. I also experience this in museums and galleries. The art movements of Modernism, Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism to name a few where all inspired by “primitive art.” I think art that moves me points me to the origins of art and our source.
When I was studying in Florence I would haunt the Uffizi museum and stare at The Birth of Venus by Sandro Bottecelli for hours. It is a very large piece and as I sat there I felt like I was gazing at a beautiful flower. It evoked in me the archetype of beauty and the sacred feminine. I believe beauty is instinctual. Look at all the amazing patterns in nature. Maybe as I experienced this work I became nostalgic for this archetype as it has been squashed and neglected in our contemporary culture.
I believe I was seventeen when I had an internship at the Milwaukee art museum. Most of the time I would just haunt (theme here) the galleries from ancient times into Contemporary. I kept on being drawn back to Mark Rothko’s color field painting Red and Green. As I sat there in the still gallery I swear it looked like this painting was breathing. I was engulfed in the color and what I felt was beyond words. Someone once explained that the green represented good and the red evil. It was symbolic of the tension between those to forces. I am not sure if that is what I saw. I do know I felt like I was in the presence of something primordial.
When I worked in the gallery world, I was always thrilled for someone to acquire an etching or drawing of Roberto Matta’s. To live with a Matta is one of my dreams. Think about living with a work that moves you everyday. What would that do to your psyche? When I look at Matta I engage on a strange other worldly level. His images emerge from his own subconscious seem to entice mine. This is another way that I experience art is through an exchange. I build a relationship with the form, the color, the composition, and the artist psychic imprint. The image seems to offers me something and if I resonant with it. It becomes part of being.
Ah, the icon of internal torment and Resurrection of the goddess. I experience Frida Kahlo’s amazing psychological work through my own personal torment. As a surly bohemian in my early twenties she taught me how to descend into the darkness of my shadow and produce powerful works. As well as the creation of my own personal myth through my own surrealist images. Her fantastic imagery came from her personal experience, but transcends into the universal. Her work speaks to my passion for living and the power of embracing the struggle. I experience her work through my “pain body” as Ekart Toole would say.
To conclude I see art as teacher. I see art as beauty. I see art as pain. I see art as passion. I see art as breathing. I see art as healing. Its funny, after taking 5 zillion of dry droning art history courses only two are the most memorable. In undergrad my professor Donald Harrington was deaf and the way you would reveal your insights was on flash cards that he would read out loud. The dynamic dialogue in that class was exhilarating. It was his passion, humor and truthful approach to art. He made people see art in different light.
The other one was when I was studying Florence Italy, Renaissance Art. My teacher was a passionate Italian woman who explored all levels of the art created during the Renaissance. Then we would walk to the work for a direct experience. They had to drag me away from Michelangelo’s David as I fell in love and lost any sense of time.
That reminds me when I experience art and it moves me it feels like linear time just disappears.
Would love to hear how you experience art? Engage….if you will