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Thursday, 19 April 2012

Empty Canvas?

A few months ago I went to a couple of interactive lectures about physics and the universe, and my poor brain strained to assimilate even a fraction of the knowledge being conveyed with such enthusiasm and excitement. 

Last night I went to the first of a couple of talks on art history and the interrelatedness of art with the church and God. I thought – if I thought about it at all – that it would be pretty and informative but not that it would be a challenge, too. 

The artist, Peter, fizzed with enthusiasm for his subject but more than that – his enthusiasm was grounded in a huge amount of knowledge. He’s not ‘just’ an artist – he’s a thinker, who seeks to find ideas in the artwork he studies and tries to find his way forward into the ‘discussion’ which has, and is, going on. 

It’s a discussion of profound ideas. Who we really are. How we express our identity.  I never before saw any meaning whatsoever in paint scattered and splattered on a canvas, but now, even if I don’t particularly appreciate it as art, I understand that there is some thought behind it.

No wonder there is such an intertwining of art and spirituality. Art, as Peter explained it, is attempting to express visually what the spirit is all about. What life is all about.

It’s easy to skate along the surface of ‘being’. To appreciate art because of its aesthetic merits – the colours blend with the decor of the room, or the portrait captures the essence of someone’s spirit, or the lines and textures are pleasing to the eye.

But again and again last night, Peter talked about the ‘discussion’ in which artists are engaged. 

It’s a discussion which I’ve largely missed for decades. And it’s time, I think, that I started to listen, and perhaps enter in somehow.

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