Thursday, September 22, 2011


Giorgio De Chirico: The Great Tower, 1913
This is one of my absolute favourite paintings.
I love the foreboding green sky, though
it's all really bathing in a warm light, and it's not cold or frightening,

(in fact these are colours I love to see together)
 in spite of oozing solitude.
There is comfort in the silence, you can almost hear the figures whispering...
or just silently contemplating something on their own, yet in harmony with each other.
And the architecture provides a sense of security,
as it rightly ought to do -

it's towering over very small figures, protecting them.
Metaphysical painting was invented by Giorgio De Chirico in Florence 1907. It actually has nothing directly to do with the otherworldly, but rather a sense of mystery behind the objects of our day-to-day existence. I have been at a loss for a while, not feeling particularly spiritual in any way whatsoever. My days are full, thanks to my husband various things are going on a lot of the time, and apart from that I am struggling with the relentless insomnia and the fact that medicines have stopped working for me. It is really all consuming. Apart from this, I am thinking a lot about art. What is it to me?

I also fear that I will never leave that mark on the world that I always hoped to, that mark that was supposed to justify my sufferings in this life. It's an awkward conflict and I naturally hope to see it resolved at some point in the near future. No doubt am I better off not worrying about whether I am of any importance or not, but it's hard for me to change an ingrained attitude. I am now middle-aged and hence all too aware of the shortness of life... of the little that is left. It's a strange shift of attention.

Giorgio De Chirico: The Secret of Love 1914
Any old still life is not metaphysical. 
The sense of mystery seems to be mainly in the empty spaces,
the silence and the haphazard yet obviously well contemplated juxtaposition of objects.
Any old street scene is not metaphysical just because it's empty of people, however.
It's all in the atmosphere, the strange colours that evoke strange atmospheric conditions...
Renee Magritte: The Secret Life 1928
Max Ernst: The Sea 1924
There's something else on my mind on these days which is more positive. Let me start with the fact that I want to make art about life here on Earth, and so I feel that I will fall out of favour from anyone who feels that the purpose of art is to solely point at higher levels of consciousness. The integral community is really promoting art these days as well as debating what exactly comprises integral art. It's worth having a look at, though I do not claim to be 100 % in agreement with them. Because we are speaking of integral art rather than mystical art, I venture to say that it is an art that has a broader spectrum of interest. In all honesty I find a lot of the art presented in their gallery emotionally cold, analytical - and male. Whether talking about chronic illness and similar issues in order to raise awareness of the challenges of the physical reality could be seen as integral remains to be seen, but of course I think it can be the expression of a very profound vision with deeply spiritual implications, and it should encompass our human emotions. It's what I feel called to do, in spite of the fact that it is a form of risk taking for me. Not only is it very self-disclosing and this I have trouble with these days, but it may also simply not work out very well and it may gain no audience whatsoever. There's my ego all fear struck again...
Giorgio De Chirico: The Tower, 1913
I love the way the shadows are mysterious and comforting
rather than scary or in any way negative.
Anyway, the other issue is that of the metaphysical point of view, which has recently become much clearer to me than ever before. For one, I started to read the exhibition catalogue about Giorgio De Chirico and the artists he influenced (A Look Into The Invisible). I am still digging through some rather tedious scientific article in the beginning but believe there will be revelations to be had if I persevere. Can you not hear the silence and life of the objects above? And note that they are all about the sphere and the circle, perhaps meant to symbolize unity, harmony; in a sense the most perfect of forms? Perfection can be found in the most unlikely of places. Yet I prefer when it is imbued with human emotion; compassion, connection and warmth. The most abstract one is the one by Max Ernst, and while it remains intriguing to me, it also keeps me the coldest.

Magritte's spaces are often a little claustrophobic, as in the picture above. One must remember that the historical time we are talking about here was that of general angst as two wars were wreaking havoc with people's minds. That you would find references not only to Nietsche and Freud but also to a gloomy state of collective consciousness is only natural. I will return to all this some time later on.

Can symbolism exist without a reference to the physical world? We tend to interpret the world symbolically, language being a basic form of symbolism. Yet how someone understands symbolism as a language and puts deeply meaningful symbols together to create bigger wholes is an art all its own, something not everyone is capable of. I think abstract art can only go so far in referring to something  universal and deeply meaningful in a humanistic sense. I don't think symbolism will ever die out, but resurge as it has throughout history in different contexts and due to different agendas. I will also talk more about this later.

At the same time, I started photographing objects in my studio. Since that worked out quite well, I continued by taking photos of other parts of the house. In the end, I had a portfolio which was good enough to send off to a journalist who blogs about interior decoration, despite the fact that our house is very far from being completed. I've just always wanted to be able to do this and ended up doing it in spite of all the "buts". I guess this is how you proceed in life: you don't wait for things to be perfect before you act. You just do what you feel driven to do in spite of all the imperfections. This is largely how I lead my life as someone with a chronic illness. I try my best to make the most of what I have. Working around things is my speciality...

Martin had renovated the bedroom walls, and painted them a yellow ochre,
 some of them have a saffron coloured glaze.
It's reminiscent of a Buddhist temple.
This is the notion I worked with, introducing all my red
and turqoise fabrics,
as well as more black and gold.
The floorboards will eventually be painted black.
Here are some of the close ups that give me a deeper sense of the mystery of objects and how they relate to each other (there are more in previous posts).

Photographing objects (I am calling the series "The Secret Lives of Objects") gave me this very strong sense of the being-in-the world of all these physical things and their interrelationships. This probably occurred because the objects were highlighted and isolated from their expanded environment. Suddenly I was able to grasp what Giorgio De Chirico was going on about. There is a mystery to be experienced right here, even in your very own home. There is a spirituality to be sensed where you least think to look for it. Everywhere is mystery. Colours and forms interact in harmony or disharmony, depending on the creator. It all reflects your soul, even the arrangements of fruit (often round!) in a fruit bowl.

There will be more on these artists later...

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