Thoughtful Writings...by Si Lewen

I came across the webstie of Si Lewen today. What a treasure trove of interesting things. First, he posts various works that are linear in nature, one work composed of 1000 works. It is very intriguing to follow along the progression that he presents. There are several lectures and text files of his commentary on the world, politics, art....and I found these most inspiring. I am going to quote some of it here....so I don't lose them. Sometimes websites disappear, and the thoughts behind them also go. I don't want to lose this perspective.

From On Art and REality
"The rare, truly inspired work becomes increasingly difficult to find. How is one to distinguish between genuine art and its commercial counterfeit? It is neither color, design, subject, skill or novelty (presented as "original"), but something ephemeral, "authentic". This "authenticity" can arise only out of inspiration, which cannot be produced or duplicated. Among all the acres of canvasses covering the walls of museums and galleries, the truly inspired work is rare, no less than the inspired drama, poem or symphony. The rest is merchandise, of one media or another, supplying the demand of a market and catering to fashion and expectations. Art must be a revelation, extra-ordinary and inspired.

How account for inspiration? How explain a Mozart who, even as a child, must have heard melodies in his head which, literally, poured from his mind and fingertips? No natural talent ever decides to create anything; it is beyond decision; it just happens. In Shakespeare, words must have occurred and arranged themselves and spilled out into poetry beyond thought or control. Words, melodies, images - they pour forth, literally by themselves, triggered by some peculiar sensibility? Surely, in a Da Vinci, Vermeer, Van Gogh or Picasso and all their kind, talent is never acquired, but reflects some peculiarity one happens to be born with - a "divine gift" or a birth defect, a genetic inheritance, some allergy or even more troublesome mystery? The "born artist", the person of peculiar sensibility and obsession has little control or choice over his talent or inspiration; he does what he must do, or as his muse directs.

"Inspiration" might start any place, at any time - some image or other "popping up". It may start in the quiet of night, sometimes in a dream, an image repeating itself, especially during that strange "twilight zone", between sleep and wakefulness. It may continue on during the day, and for day after day, ever more insistently until finally committed to paper or canvass. There may be several inspirations at the same time, a procession of images, each one clamoring to be "realized". But this confrontation with the, as yet, untouched canvass may be the most delicious moment in the long, often agonizing process of creation. It is like an act of love - it permits no intruders or outsiders watching or spying; it is a very private, sacred, secret tryst between the artist and what beckons and confronts.

When the canvass is finally touched, at first perhaps tremulously and tenderly, then with ever increasing passion, dialogues ensue, even arguments, at times becoming a wrestling match, a mutual embrace of the painter and his painting till both lie exhausted. Poets and composers facing their blank pages, probably, experience similar love affairs. Love affairs can be maddening for the artist, born of fertile inspiration and giving birth to what is mostly inexplicable and often unacceptable.

There may be only a slight shift of balance and emphasis between inspiration and madness. In a madman, inspiration may have gone too far and awry. Where then is the dividing line between one and the other? Sharp lines of demarcation or safe perimeters evidently explain little. We insist on straight lines and sharp divisions, certainty, hard facts and absolutes, perhaps, because of our own limitations. The world, however, is not merely black and white, good or evil, either or, but composed of, mostly, subtle shadings, infinite possibilities, eternal paradoxes, indeterminable change, constant contradictions, asymmetric symmetries and - indescribable beauty. Mostly, however, it appears composed of question marks - in all sizes, colors and melodies."

""Is it art?" has by now spawned generations of increasingly belabored intellectual and philosophical responses, ready to ignore art's primary function. Image and imagination (let alone esthetics) has been replaced by "ideas, theories and concepts", as well as fashion and novelty. The result has been the production of high-priced "collector items, conversation pieces" and hype - the ultimate triumph of Dada's idea of "anti-art".

It might be interesting to recall that in 1920, visitors to the Dada exhibition in Cologne were free to trash its displays. Acknowledged as "worthless", trashing it was accepted as a quite proper and even meaningful response."

I have trouble imagining this happening at Miami Basel for example....Can you picture it? Security guards all hanging out smoking butts, while the populace trashed the exhibits....

"It may take a certain innocence to create art as well as experience it. "Understanding" can get in the way. Art is not an intellectual, academic or philosophical exercise. The art of imagery must rely on imagination, perception and intuition.

The direction which future art might and, I believe, should take is toward greater freedom from the demands of the market as well as style and fashion."

Good luck with that one. It appears that they are tied even closer together.

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