2004/10/02

Modern art 39: ARTSENSE 014


Acryl014. Hot summer landscape.

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The slide-show of all the acrylics of my ARTSENSE serie has been installed, if interested click
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Landscape painting in Western Europe appeared roughly around 1550 after the first gold and silver loated from South America started to circulate on the old continent. This period saw an incredible increase in means of payment that were put in circulation following the plundering of the treasures of the incas and other American societies. It's difficult for 21st century minds to imagine how big the impact of this plundering has been on European societies. What is for sure is that it changed the face of Europe and its future road.

For one, the ownership of immense material richnesses escaped the coffers of the religious hierarchy and orders. The immediate consequence of this central fact has been that the newly assembled private fortunes began spending lavishly on mansions and castles. The new rich wanted to show off their richnesses, bricks and stones assembled for eyes to see. This simple and basic economic reality engendered one of the most important cultural shifts in all the history of the European civilization. Private propriety, private ownership appeared indeed to shape the appearance of the individual in the other people's minds and thus the perception developed and generalized that individual well being was intimatelly related to material possessions. The cult of individualism was born that would ultimately overtake the cult organized by the church.This newly born individualism created the desire to acquire the symbols of religious power for private individual pleasure. The mansions and castles were a first shadowing of the cathedrals and palaces and once there, they had to be filled. Within the span of less than a century paintings, sculpures, mirrors, tapestries, rugs, and so on became all highly praised luxury commodities.
Those new rich wanted paintings representing the immediate environment of their mansions in a realist style at the image of the religious paintings that were hanging in the cathedrals and painters delivered thus for centuries in classical realism.

New technologies and the deepening of rationalism eventually called for the overthrow of the classical realist forms. Van Gogh, Gauguin, the impressionists, ... answered that call. Finally, after the 1st world war, painters wanted to overthrow the first degree reality given by our eyes. But what to put instead. Three quarters of a century later, this question has still not been answered satisfactorily.

My personal view is that visual arts need to go back to their founding "raison d'etre": representing the signs of our society's worldview in the making. "Hot summer landscape" is my vision of a landscape with its internal life and its external connections to the vaster world. This is surely not the representation of a first degree seeing. But seeing is far more than the image attained through the lenses of the camera or of the eyes. Seeing is that image + a lot more. It is not as if we were empty machines only seeing what our eyes-camera give us to see. Far from that. We are indeed the result of our culture, of our accumulated knowkedge and thus what we see is far more than the first degree image reflected in our eyes.
What we see is a visual perception by our complete being: camera-eyes + culture + knowledge + feelings.

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