The precision of naming takes away
from the uniqueness of seeing.
– Pierre Bonnard
… a short excerpt from Rupert Spira‘s book, Presence, Vol 1, with paintings by the artists he mentions …
– – –
An artist tries to represent, that is, to re-present, to present again a vision of experience that evokes its reality, to make something that has the power within it to draw the viewer into its own reality.
That is what the French painter, Pierre Bonnard, was trying to capture: the timeless moment of perception before thinking has divided the world into a perceiving subject and a perceived object and then further sub-divided the object into ‘ten thousand things.’
And what did that vision look like in Bonnard’s view? It was a world brimming with colour, intensity, harmony and dancing with vitality. It was world in which the edge of the bath or an old wooden floorboard were given the same attention, the same love, as were the curve of a cheek or the gesture of a hand.
It was the same moment that William Blake wanted to evoke. He was once questioned, “When you see the sun rise do you not see a round disc of fire somewhat like a guinea?” And he replied, “Oh no, no! I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host crying ‘Glory, Glory, Glory is the Lord God Almighty.’”
Likewise, William Turner who is reported to have been returning home from Hampstead Heath with a painting under his arm late one evening, when a local resident stopped him and asked to see the painting. After looking at it for some time the resident remarked, “Mr. Turner, I have never seen a sun set over Hampstead Heath like that,” to which Turner replied, “No, but don’t you wish you could.”
The body and mind of the artist is the medium through which nature interprets itself to itself. It is the medium through which nature explores and realises its own identity. As Cézanne said, “I become the subjective consciousness of the landscape and my painting becomes its objective consciousness.”
Presence: The Art of Peace and Happiness – Volume 1
Links to related pages and posts on this site:
rupert spira at the artisans’ gallery
nature’s eternity – an essay on paul cézanne by rupert spira
Sources of images:
Pierre Bonnard – Nude in a bathtub
William Blake – Song of Los
J.M.W. Turner – Sunrise, with a Boat between Headlands
Paul Cézanne – Bend in a Forest Road