Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Spreading the Alarm"

A Series on the Prophetic Aspect of Art

‘Spreading the Alarm’, (oil, 1990)
The birth of this oil painting occurred while walking the empty night streets of London when I envisioned and then sketched a lone figure beating a drum like the once town criers, spreading the alarm to the shuttered buildings and the sleeping people. The present image was found in a toy Pinocchio figurine beating a drum which I had used as a subject for student classes that I was presenting at the time. . The subject metamorphosed with even richer implications and the feelings I wished to express about the state of the world and society or sleeping man not heeding ‘and still not heeding’ the alarm?
The artist stands poised between the inner world of fantasy, imagination, intuition, feeling and the outer phenomenon of material objects from cockles to constellations along with the human, social, political and economic environment that as with the law of gravity must be reckoned with. Most artists tend to lean in one direction or another and can be exemplified by for instance William Blake (think imagination and prophetic), and his opposite, Monet (think observation of nature). The former, William Blake, is very involved with the inner awareness of his world out of a need to develop order within and make value choices, selection and rejection from the flood of worldly stimuli or ‘streams of witchery’ as the Bhagavad-Gita puts it. It obviously follows that this type of artist has great sensitivity to both outer and inner events, their source and meaning etc. As a good mechanic can hear every nuance of an engine whether it’s running well or badly, so does this class of artist have highly developed intuition and imagination. This gift is similar to that of the traditional Shamans who could tap into deeper levels of consciousness to guide and heal their tribes and communities, usually through some form of creative expression – dance, sand painting etc. They have a strong presentiment of the future but not in some occult or fortune-telling sense, but rather more profoundly attuned to the hum of humanity’s and nature’s tendencies. The only other example I know of who approximates these powers, I believe, are pubescent girls. At the point just before reaching womanhood and nature’s forces of procreation, they become extremely sensitive and inclined to pick up the vibrations of the age: it’s brutality, insensitivity etc, often with tragic results and in its extreme possibly responsible for anorexia – a rebellion to growing up and what she senses is in store for her and the world?

With the insight of these analogies one can understand the creative artist’s unique position. He or she creates to find beauty and meaning in the world they are faced with, as well as fulfilling the responsibility of sharing these insights with his/her fellow humans through a creative activity, thus preparing humankind for a new future, acting as a prophet as well as a mythmaker.

This collection of works I am presenting are images that if contemplated on, have qualities and feelings that a visual language can best communicate and which can overcome our verbal ‘blah-blah’ level to where the knowledge and the feeling become one, a language that our soul or essence can understand. Today’s flood of left- brain electronic media are mental ‘fast-foods’ – easy to digest passively, yet without providing any real life values. The challenges and rapid changes of our present world can benefit from art both as an appreciation of beauty itself as well as an active mediator creating awareness such as in this image, ‘spreading the alarm’.

A Series on the Prophetic Aspect of Art. "Spreading the Alarm".

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