Art is a Language - Part 1
Dear Art Connoisseur,
Several years ago, I was in Scottsdale, Arizona visiting art galleries. There were many paintings which I enjoyed looking at and several that I liked quite a lot. There were also many paintings that I didn’t care for and some that I down right disliked. I am sure that there were many that I didn’t even notice. Of the hundreds, possibly thousands of paintings that I saw on that trip, there is only one that I remember - and it still haunts me.
With my first glimpse of that painting, I was captivated. I stood there across the room just staring. I couldn’t move if I wanted to - but I didn’t want to. I felt something. I felt a profound connection to the scene.
It was not a grand or majestic scene. It was not one that shouts for attention. The painting, about 30 x 40 or so, was mostly sky. Only about an inch or two of the bottom was dedicated to the ground plane - and being in shadow, commanded little attention. It served only as a reference for scale and place. The sky, however, was captivating. A large thunderhead was billowing in the evening sky, illuminated by the sun. I could almost smell the rain, I could almost feel the wind. I must have studied that painting for 30 to 40 minutes (both up close and at a distance).
It has probably been 6 to 8 years since I saw that painting, but I still remember how it made me feel. I know that I don’t remember all the details, but I remember the important elements.
On another occasion, I discovered a bronze entitled “Sustaining the Prophet” by Ben Hammond. Again it was not so much the subject, but rather the interpretation and handling of the subject. It was a biblical story of Moses holding up his arms while the Israelites were at battle. If he lowered his arms, the Israelites would lose the battle, but while his arms were upheld, they would prevail. To help sustain him, Aaron and Hur supported his arms. In the bronze you could feel the tremendous weight and fatigue - the extremely heavy burden. It was a powerful image. I have thought of that bronze for several years - hoping to one day acquire one.
I also remember vividly a charcoal drawing by a grad student while I was at Utah State University. Entitled “The Dirge,” the charcoal was a very powerful depiction of a funeral procession. You could feel the sorrow and pain. You could sense the loss and mourning. Yet the drawing was quite vague - almost dreamlike. There was little, if any detail. It was mostly shapes and gestures. It has been over 10 years since I saw that drawing, but I still remember how it moved me.
Art is a language that can communicate on a deep level with others. Those pieces which communicated to me may not communicate to others. Likewise, much of the artwork that I overlook may touch others deeply. In the next issue of my newsletter, we will explore why and how art speaks to us - and why it may not. If you have any insights, comments, or questions on this topic, please post a comment.
Copyright, 2007, Keith Bond