13 August 2019

Velázquez, and the souvenir of youth

I know it's not fashionable in this Contemporary world of Art to go on about feelings, and such, but I do anyway, because I can.

Post-Modernist education, instead of looking at a painting, then feeling it, has us locked in heady thought about its sociological and ethnographical meaning, far removed from its aesthetic qualities. The context of a work has become more important than the picture itself. 

Art works have braved several thousand years of churches and academies yet have remarkably survived these cultural restraints, but just barely. The hand of the artistic act, the  original vision somehow survives despite everything.

At this moment in time we are at the mercy of  a Post-Modernist educational system more potent than the French Salon in the late 19th century. It teaches young minds to think instead of feel. 

The result seems to be that it has taught students to analyse art but not make it, and conformity has reigned which is ironic.

I am reminded of all this when I come across the portrait of a young girl by Velásquez. It is a magnificent picture, as alive today as it was when painted back in the 17th Century. Did she perhaps grow up? Maybe not, possibly she died in a riding accident, or maybe just married off to an older Marquis in the Spanish countryside somewhere. Perhaps she lived to the old age of 60? I am sure that Wikipedia could answer these questions. But the fact is, though long gone, her image is still here today reminding us that this moment here now, is all we have. It is a souvenir, but an extraordinary one of great beauty and feeling.

Because I am a painter I think too, of my own Evening Prayers as souvenirs. Certainly not as extraordinary but full of feeling nonetheless. Because when they work, (which is not always) they too, become reminders of the what the sea and sky looked like this night at dusk. 

And like the young girl, this evening has also now gone. But like waves, and young girls, these evenings will keep coming no matter who is there to witness them.

Maybe, we have to hit a certain age to appreciate this fact. Maybe too, this is the reason why so many older people walk the beach at dusk.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 28 April, 2019, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

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