17 November 2022

Painting as redemption?


Evening Po√ęt Laval, oil on canvas board,  25 X 20 cm

With so many different artistic and contextual mediums, does this contemporary world even need Painting any more? 

OK,,, unseriously,,, who doesn't like a bit of rhetoric? But the question is a good one, one that creeps into my mind continually these days but only after waking in in the morning when I feel heavy with dread. Actually, I try to remain focussed on own love for, and belief in the act of Painting as a way of human redemption because it's my daily reprieve from insanity. I would otherwise be falling into rabbit holes of doubt in each of my extremities because honestly, as most of us know these daze, it's a pretty wild world of distractions out there.

What do I mean by 'a belief in the act of Painting as a way of redemption?'. 

That means that both the painter and viewer can have their minds changed from the experience of a work of art. It's what one can expect from theatre, architecture and music, books and dance, etc, etc,, so why can't we expect the same from painting?

I am certainly changed by the experience of painting, both creating and viewing certain things but then, I'm in the game. The real question is how to touch others.

I put up this very small picture simply because it intrigued me, and because I was the author. I made it four years ago almost exactly. I had seen the small hills across from Poet Laval at dusk while driving down the back way to Dieulefit one night. I stopped and made two studies. The darkening gloom of a red November sky was enticing. Below it, an enormous field of burnt umber. A farmer on his tractor arrived after I had set up in a corner to do some last work. I moved everything to make room for him. He stopped and said hello. In France farmers aren't too shocked by seeing painter in a field at dusk as they would be in Australia. It turned out that he was the husband of the lovely German woman who works in the Post office in Dieulefit and for whom I had always harboured a small crush. And he was a nice as her!

A few years earlier I had lost my fountain pen in the Post and asked her to contact me if it ever turned up. Eight months later, here in Australia, I received a small packet from France with the pen inside and a small note. I was quite surprised but pleased. I sent her a box of chocolates via Amazon. I stopped in on one of my last days there after meeting her husband to say goodbye. There are many acquaintances I cherish from my life in France which I've never really found here in Australia though folks are awfully kind too.

And now this picture reminds me of that dear memory. But I like it too because it is so very Expressionist, and it reminds me of Philip Guston who I like very much. Though he mostly painted so much 'Non-Objective' work, I think if he had worked from a 'motif' he might have done something similar to this small picture, and perhaps he might have even liked it. But I say this somewhat cautiously to the grey clouds overhead. 

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