If we but give it time,
a work of art ‘can rap and knock and enter our souls’ and re-align us
– all our molecules –
to make us whole again.
- P K Page
Georgia O’Keeffe: Bella Donna 1939
Nobody sees a flower – really –
it is so small it takes time – and to see takes time,
like to have a friend takes time.
- Georgia O’Keeffe
The Slow Art Movement, which has its day on the yearly stage this weekend (April 12th) has evolved around the activities of contemplatively viewing and gently digesting works of art – mostly within a gallery context. It’s a worthy idea. Anything that encourages us to slow down and really see (art, or anything) is wonderful medicine for the manic mind, and an effective antidote to the ‘glance-categorise-move along’ habit that rushes us through our days.
The notion of ‘Slow Art’ arrived in my life with a different twist. It was ushered in by Robert Hughes…
What we need more of is slow art: art that holds time as a vase holds water: art that grows out of modes of perception and whose skill and doggedness makes you think and feel; art that isn’t merely sensational, that doesn’t get its message across in 10 seconds, that isn’t falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep-running in our natures.
- Robert Hughes in The Guardian, June 2004
…and brilliantly explored in Slow Art: Painting and Drawing as a Meditative Process by Australian artist Amanda Robins
The physical act of making and our immersion in this activity is the initial doorway to the productive ordering of consciousness known as ‘flow’. It is through this essential aspect that we can lose the sense of ourselves as separate and unique beings and become one with the activity.
The flow experience constitutes a time outside of the ordinary sequence of daily events where clock time loses its meaning and the constant stream of internal dialogue is for the moment, stilled.
The immersion within the world of the ordinary object leads ironically to new ways of seeing ourselves. … The everyday becomes a way of making connections and creating metaphors which can speak, in the end, about the ineffable.
Neither Hughes nor Robins were writing about the viewing of art. They were talking about its making. Their words were manifesto-like for me, directly motivating the creation of this website and blog.
For many makers, quietly involved in their studio practice, submerged in the mystery of creating, slow flow is the daily way. Their art springs from an inexplicable necessity, often contemplative or sacred in nature.
Gloria Petyarre: Atnangkere iv 1999
Slow motion opens the mind.
Smooth motion opens the heart.
Slow smooth motion
the inexplicable delight.
- Paul Reps
As Slow Art Day creeps closer, I’m wondering why there isn’t a version for art makers. Why don’t artisans get a ‘special’ day to sit quietly with their chosen mode of expression of visual language and allow their materials and processes free voice without pressure to produce for commissions or shows? Why isn’t there one little day in a year normally lived in a rush of consuming and commodifying set aside for the slow, deliberate, creating of something – anything – we can call our own authentic handwork?
It doesn’t need to qualify as “art” (better it doesn’t, because no one seems certain what that actually is). It just needs to be a simple, quiet, computer-free activity that arises out of stillness and is executed by our own hands with great attention and care. Preferably in silence and solitude – unless one is lucky enough to have the company of folk with similar intentions.
You might be a knitter, taking up needles and yarn for a day’s play without a pattern. Or a potter happy to pinch pots rather than use the wheel, just for a change. Or a photographer stealthily tracking a subject that bridges the gap between subject and object. Or a painter allowing herself to obey the dictates of her hues without design or direction… you get the gist.
P l a y d a y: a day when we enter our studio with beginner’s mind, as though we’re inventing painting or potting or weaving or carving for the very first time in human history, a day when comments from the inner critic will be entirely ignored. (It’s only one day out of 365 for goodness sake!)
As for yours truly, I’ll be breathing. And on each exhalation, I’ll be making a mark. This is how I give thanks for the blessing of the mystery of slow flow, and how I melt into the “inexplicable delight”. My studio is tiny and not properly unpacked or set up yet, but there’s a space for you if you’d like to join me. I’d love that. Let’s start a Slow Art movement of our own…
Georgia O’Keeffe – Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Gloria Petyarre – Utopia Desert Art
Tai Carmen at Parallax Journal has written a post that’s inspired me to do something new (for me) – click the reblog button.
My studies in Japan introduced me to the concept of Wabi-Sabi and my heart took to it like a moth to a flame. It was in Kyoto that I found Leonard Koren’s book Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers- a magnificent companion for me during my days in Kyoto as well as the more remote regional areas I visited.
“To find beauty in imperfection is not intuitive to the Western mind.” We race after what should be, and romanticise what was, ensuring that we rarely see what is. Wabi-Sabi turns our perception towards what is, and more. It treasures it. There is great fulfilment in this.
Thank you Tai.
Originally posted on PARALLAX JOURNAL::
“Wabi-Sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent & incomplete.” ~ Leonard Koren
“Wabi is the beauty that springs from the creative energy that flows in all things, animate or not. It’s a beauty that, like nature itself, can appear with dark and light, sad and joyful, rough and gentle.” ~ Makoto Ueda
“Beauty is radiant and tactile, not airbrushed.” ~ Joe Hefferon
The term Wabi-Sabi represents a Japanese aesthetic philosophy that embraces authenticity over perfection.
Characterized by asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity—modesty & intimacy—wabi-sabi values natural objects & processes as emblems of our transitory existence. Rust, woodgrain, freckles—the texture of life.
Developed in the 15th century in reaction to the lavish, ostentatious ornamentation of the aristocracy, wabi-sabi centers around three principals: “nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, and nothing is finished.”
“The initial inspiration for wabi-sabi’s metaphysical, spiritual, and moral principles come from ideas about simplicity…
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Gerhard Richter turned 82 on February 9. This post is a little celebration of the man and his wondrous ways of creating.
Some weeks ago SBS TV re-screened Corinna Belz’s award-winning 2012 documentary, Gerhard Richter Painting.
Belz spent three years as an observer in Richter’s Cologne studio capturing mesmerizing footage of the artist producing his radical abstract works. As we witness him mixing layer upon layer of bold primary colors, smearing the wet paint with a giant squeegee and scraping at the surfaces of the canvases, Richter’s masterpieces appear before our eyes. “You get the feeling the paintings are staring at you,” says Belz, who met the painter while filming his vibrant pixelated stained glass window for the Cologne Cathedral. “There’s a physicality to Richter’s paintings. I wanted the viewer to become immersed in the subtly suspenseful cycle of the process.”
As I watched I scribbled down a few droplets of Richter’s wisdom that resonated deeply with me … all the quotes below are from this wonderful film, from the mouth of the man himself. Enjoy!
You can’t explain a painting in words.
Painting is another way of thinking.
I’m always at a loss. That’s not the problem.
If chance had taken me elsewhere, I’d love it there.
Painting is a secretive business.
As a painter I “let go” in secret.
To paint under observation is the worst thing there is. Worse than being in hospital.
I act differently.
I create something I must respond to – until there’s nothing left to do.
Truth is the quality of what’s “good.”
This is such fun!
Images © Gerhard Richter sourced from a selection of public galleries.
(A very subjective selection, based on my adoration of colour and texture.)
Piet Mondrian: The Red Tree (Evening) 1908 – 1910
- – -
Look outside at the sleeping tree there. Who sees the tree?
… Does a body do the seeing or does awareness, consciousness, life see it? What sees the tree? Consciousness? – or a body-centered custodian of consciousness?
Where is the tree? Fifty-seven feet removed from a body-oriented ego-container of awareness, a judge who likes or dislikes what he sees? – or is the tree within awareness? Is the seeing of the tree the activity of a separate-from-the-thing-I-see recipient-of-life, a so-many-year-old male or female pump filled organism who looks out through bloodshot eyes and answers to the name of Bill? – or could it be that it is Deity being the “seeing”?
Indeed, isn’t it just possible that Isness, Reality, God, is the seer “seeing” and being the seen? Could it just be that “seeing” itself is the identity “we” are?
Could we be Life itself rather than the recipient of it? Indeed we can! We are!
- William Samuel, The Awareness of Self-Discovery
In order to understand the true meaning of Abstract Art,
we have to conceive of ourselves as a reflex (reflection) of reality.
This means we have to see ourselves as a mirror in which reality reflects itself.
- Piet Mondrian
Image source: www.pietmondrian.info
Zebras: July 22
When I look at this photograph of zebras, when I feel love for them, I become them: I enter their stripes, feel their taut flesh, their muscled bodies, the flanks, the legs, the soft nostrils.
I cannot hold myself apart from them long enough to experience it as love of other. When I love one of these zebras, I am reveling in my own delineated skin, my four points of contact with the earth, the tail of long hair soft at the backs of my behind legs.
Who made this animal? And why? Why on earth – why in a whole universe – such whimsy? What got into somebody’s head, to mark me thus?
When one zebra looks at another, it is not amazed at what it sees. Probably the looker little supposes that it looks much the stripy same as the other fellow. But even if it knew about its own appearance, this knowledge would not impress the zebra.
I can feel the other zebra’s head resting in the middle of my back, where its undermouth sinks into the curve of my spine. Its weight is deeply satisfying. And I can feel the weight of my own chin sunk heavily into the other zebra’s welcoming back, and holding the weight of my striped head (though I do not know that it is striped). I can smell the other, and the other can smell me. I’ve lost track of which is which.
Don’t try to figure it out. It isn’t important. Nor is it worth any effort at all to tell where zebra stops and human starts.
- Jan Frazier
When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening
Ed: I have no way of knowing what picture Jan was looking at when she wrote this piece; the image here is by photographer Nina Papiorek.
The links below feature a selection of pages and posts on this site. Enjoy!
The purpose of art is to take the senses on a journey back to the source of perception, which is pure Awareness.
- Rupert Spira
In order to understand the true meaning of Abstract Art, we have to conceive of ourselves as a reflex (reflection) of reality. This means we have to see ourselves as a mirror in which reality reflects itself.
- Piet Mondrian
The body is a sensing instrument of consciousness. Without the body and the mind, the trees couldn't see themselves. Usually we think that we are looking at a tree, but the tree is looking at itself through us. Without this instrument, the tree doesn't get to see itself. We are the sensing instruments of the Divine.
Art is a form of supremely delicate awareness ... meaning at-oneness, the state of being at one with the object.
- D H Lawrence
The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity.
- Julia Cameron
I am not
but the Universe is Myself
- Shih T'ou AD 700 - 790
It is [the] flash of realization of not-two-ness, that is both the center and the endpoint of our human experience.
- Frederick Franck
I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.
I’m frightened of the old ones.
- John Cage
God created the giraffe, the cat, the elephant ...
He has no real style, he just keeps trying things.
- Pablo Picasso
Slow motion opens the mind.
Smooth motion opens the heart.
Slow smooth motion
the inexplicable delight.
- Paul Reps
Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.
- Renee Magritte
The basic project of art is ... to close the gap between you and everything that is not you.
- Robert Hughes