The Heroic Feminine


Myth and the Artistic Journey

The real and modern adventure is no longer to the dark woods of Africa or to the summit of Mount Everest, but through the vast landscape of the soul.  This is the country that is still truly unknown.  The saints who remained cloistered understood this: that there is nowhere to go, that the real journey lies in the soul hidden.

Painting itself, has become for me an extended meditation, a journey of self-knowledge referred to by the ancient Greeks as nekyia.  It is on such a path that myth is encountered.  By myth, I mean the emergence of meaning at its source, and it is a place I have learned that needs to be tended to.  It is a place rich in image that has the potential to manifest a wisdom about ourselves not hampered by limitations of culture.  It is a place reached through intuitive journey in which the images emerge freely, of their own accord.  Victor Hugo states that “we never see but one side of things, the other’s plunged in night and mystery.”  Our desire to see the other side if the beginning of the mythic journey.  It is the foundation of the imagination and the fuel that gives power to the image and that in the end transforms our very being.

The roll of the artist is to be a cartographer of the nekyia – to be open to these autonomous experiences and then allowing them to be revealed.  Art therefore, as Emerson puts it, is the “memorialization of Eternal Forces in life which, having no permanent language or iconography, require art to be known at all.”  It is to this end that I paint.  In a sense I follow those painters that allowed their intuition to have veracity.

My work was once referred to in a review as “Blake-ian” and with this I agree.  Blake allowed himself to render freely images that evoked the other world.  Again Emerson states, visual art “strikes the viewer so deeply, with such authority, the merely personal is obliterated.  Something like an archetypal self is evoked.”  This quote appears on the first page of my journal.  It gives the artist consent to take the journey.

Symbolic Forms

Self-Portrait in Grey HatAE

Many of my posts will entail questions I put to myself: musings, journal entries reflected upon.

Symbolic forms or ideas are independent and are understood intuitively. I wrote this several years ago and it hangs on the wall of my studio. Periodically, I muse over it.

What is the relationship between artistic perception and symbolic forms and how are they independent? The artists’ perception is intuitive. It is something which is felt. This perception drifts between perceived reality, what is known, and the unconscious or the “dream”. This borderline area is where symbolic forms exist and where the “image” seeks its counterpart desiring materialization.

The artist, in his reverie, acts as a locus or magnet for an image to manifest itself. I give and speak of “image” as if it had its own independent life- which it does. This goes slightly beyond Baudelaire’s vision-“The whole visible universe is but a storehouse of images and signs to which the imagination will give a relative place and value; it is a sort of pasture which the imagination must digest and transform.” [Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, pg.48].

There is a dynamic relationship between the artist and the image and it becomes transformative. If the artist himself, is not transformed by it how can he expect to be a guide for change?

Why should the artist seek symbolic forms? Because the artist must combine what is known and what is seen to what is perceived intuitively [i.e. attentive equations]. This creates an intensity of feeling in the image that goes beyond material form to a symbolic value. There is a recognition and an intensity of feeling felt from within.

Delacroix describes this inherent feeling in his journal- “I firmly believe that we always mingle something of ourselves in the emotions that seem to arise out of the objects that impress us. And I think it probable that these things delight me so much only because they echo feelings that are also my own. If, although so different, they give me the same degree of pleasure, it must be because I recognize in myself the source of the kind of effect they produce.” (Journal of Eugene Delacroix, pg.213].

The object creates a resonance within the artist compelling him to materialize this emotion creatively. There is a direct correspondence between myself and the object- a recognition between us transporting me to a symbolic place- where form[my vehicle as a representational artist] declares its embedded meaning. Its the artist’s vocation to amplify and materialize this leading to his own transformation as well as being a guide  for others.