Cross My Heart and Hope to Write


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Abstract Surrealism

Art is really quite strange when you think about it. We go to places to look at synthetic pictures created with color to gain a broader understanding of ourselves and the world. The question, "Why do you enjoy art?" is not very easy to answer. Why? Perhaps it transcends our understanding and touches a part of us even we can readily access. Heidegger thought that all art was really poetry because it spoke to us. Perhaps in a language no one understands.

Aesthetic of the Unbounded

There is an art to everything. People who are the most skilled in their craft - from carpentry to fishing, deli clerks to plumbers, taxi drivers to pilots - have mastered a technique that ensures their dominance of the discipline. To a certain extent, I think it requires constant pushing: Pushing yourself to explore more, to try new things, and to better yourself. The creation of a piece of art is as much a development of the piece as the artist. There is a journey involved, communication, and deciphering of the message contained within. The art must speak to us, its creator and its audience, and ironically does not speak to everyone the same.

Some love a piece of art for reasons they cannot explain. One person understands for one reason, another for another. No matter what is on the canvas, in the sculpture, in the notes, on the walls and ramparts, or in the performance, it is blank and meaningless without someone to observe it. Yet, what is it precisely if no one can agree on what they see?

Abstract Surrealism

The sooty black walls matched the ceiling and the floor such that they appeared to meld into one another. Indeed, even the chair he sat upon was the same sooty black, sutured to the floor immovably as if it had grown straight out of it. The man seated upon it wore a pair of itchy pajamas that harmonized in texture and tinge the stygian decor. His bare feet sat upon the floor in somber quietude as he reached up with his age laden hand to scratch his lengthy beard. His graying hair had knotted into a vast dreadlock after such an expansive time spent without cleansing. His eyelids seemed disobliging to blink as his crystalline pupils dilated, the sclera stretched into focus, his gaze wild and unwavering. He perpetually cried to keep his eyes lubricated, his tears absorbed within his gnarled, straggly whiskers. He steadfastly replaced his hand atop the other on his lap, both folded over in polite endurance. His knees were clasped together, his back hunched as he rested his elbows on his thighs, pondering the painting that hung upon the wall in front of him.
Held in an equally darkened frame was a picture whose vibrant colors shone through the poorly lit space. Its cascade of intoxicating blues, enrapturing reds and tumultuous yellows threw the observer’s mind into a swoon. All manner of color was present, from orange to chartreuse, azure to brown; from glaucous to pearl, and pink to rust; from gold to byzantium, and green to taupe. They were thrown together into a massive garbled image, portraying neither shape nor substance. There were no straight lines, neither were there distinct squiggles nor decipherable swirls. There were no dots or tartan; there was no sequence to it at all. No one brush stroke seemed to lead to anything, as if conducted by a lifeless hand. The paint was applied thickly and heartily, the canvas all but lost beneath. The coat itself appeared painstakingly puzzling as the paint wasn’t oil or acrylic. It wasn’t watercolor or charcoal either. It wasn’t exactly pencil or ink, or pastel, or even crayon. The image was an amalgamation of mediums, a bastard of shape and a miscarriage of pattern.
The botched adulteration seemed constructed for no particular purpose, its message or subject lost beneath its crooning, bombastic tones. Its glossy finish sat is stark contrast to the dull texture of the ramparts, roof and rug; its vivid demeanor beamed through the unquenched ambience, glowing as if constructed of dismantled pluperfect light.
The man sat meticulously analyzing the essence of the painting, the room too small for him to wander away. He searched feverishly through the exhilarating parade of shades to discover some tangible explanation for its existence. Elapsing time had claimed his youth, scarring his fleshy chrysalis with age, and in that time, he had seen many things captured in that arcane, exotic picture.
Sometimes he imagined there to be a great battle taking place with many fallen men, foils lodged in their breasts, clashing, shield to shield, as a hulking citadel reined over them in the background. Trebuchets were erected amongst them as men encrusted with armor rode upon their ochre horses. Sometimes the men wielded muskets and pistols, the air choked with the white smoke of black powder, as canons stationed on framing hills delivered their packages to the enemy below. Trundling over heaping bodies, their bayonets thrust forward in defense, the men struggled to survive as lumps of earth rained down upon their forage caps. He would see the surface of an ocean, vacant aside from a single, bobbing brig, the seamen upon the deck frozen as they attempted to secure the sails, the makings of a storm looming in the distance. 
Occasionally the drama of war was not to be found at all. Sometimes the man would see only a peaceful landscape: A snowcapped mountain mirrored in the reflective surface of a lake, the leaves of the surrounding forest stained vermillion as nubile deer sipped from the cool water; or a vast plain coated in snow, steam rising from the chimney of a lonesome log cabin as some unnamed inhabitant within lit a fire to keep warm; or maybe it was spring, teetering upon the cusp of summer, butterflies fluttering past and landing on the petals of a motley plot of flowers, competing with bees and humming birds to get a taste.
He would discover fantastical scenes as elephants balanced on upturned champagne flutes and children played hopscotch into the eye of a black hole. From classical portraits of ambiguous dignitaries whose faces metamorphosed to the bold fonts and caricatures of pop art, a specimen of every genre he had found encased within. Yet he could not decide what it was that the painting was meant to convey, what exactly it was it was designed to portray.
In gazing, he would become overwhelmed with fervent emotion: Be it utmost sorrow to inescapable happiness; anger, nostalgia, fear or contemplation. He would weep, he would laugh, he would shout, but he could never definitively divulge the meaning of the work. He had forgotten everything else but that wane task; he could not recall who he was or where it was he came from. Indeed, he could not even make the effort anymore. The trappings of his preoccupation had consumed him, forbidding him to transcend that moment, neither to consider the past nor to dread the future. All he had was that painting to wonder, his eyes transfixed upon its face, bathing and battling the bleating hues with his anxious, ceaseless stare. And there he sat, eternally pondering the painting, never overcoming its imprisonment.
Then, suddenly, his eyes were widened beyond their usual maw as he lurched forward in his chair, his bones cracking as his formerly genuflected body erected. His emaciated legs carried him toward the flourishing canvas while a smile crept up the corner of his mouth. Drawing near to the article in exuberant realization, so close his nose threatened to scratch the surface, he gasped beatifically.     

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