Inspiration, role it plays in re-enchantment of the Arts

Inspiration plays an important role in re- enchatment of the Arts.

 

In writing this post, I am using few presupposed and self evident truths about the current state of the Arts.

One, is the need for re-enchantment of the Art.

I have taken this term from Suzi Gablik’s book by the same name where she criticises some of the basic tenets of the Modernist movement that led directly to much of the confusion left by the Postmodernism. Part of this confusion left the artist without a philosophical background needed to establish a basis for relevant correspondences between the personal and the universal principles of creation. At the same time this lack of philosophical support opened a gap in communication between the artist and his audience.

Second, is the need for Inspiration as vital source of revitalization of the current confused condition of the Art. The extreme relativism of the late Post-modernism has left a scorched field where the traditional values of excellence have been replaced by purely personal, anecdotal and many times accidental views that left the Art without it’s Muse .

Inspiration according to full definition of Merriam- Webster dictionary is: “a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation “In other words, an inspired person is one who is touched by his Spirit. That sacred part of his being that communicated the feeling of the Devine.This kind of definition tends toward somewhat religious interpretation which I believe tend to distort the real meaning of Inspiration as a direct heart felt feeling that is totally natural to all of humankind and not only to artists.

I have many sources of Inspiration. 

Some come from my daily observations of life around me. Be it an interesting form of simple objects that can turn into a still-life drawing,like this Moroccan tea pot done with silverpoint technique.

Moroccan tea pot
silverpoint drawing of Moroccan tea pot

 

Someone’s face that draws me to paint a portrait,

 

Daniel the gardener
Daniel the devoted gardener

 

a corner of a street that becomes a cityscape,

city scape
Cityscape, Work in progress

 

landscapes

 

landscape of rhythm
rhythmic landscape

 

 

Then of course there are the great masters of Art from all periods in Art history.
When I was still a student in the Avni Institute of Art in Tel Aviv, I did a small scale study of The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus by Peter Paul Rubens.

after rubens
after Rubens

 

In the beginning of my artistic development I was enchanted by the magic of Jan Vermeer’s intimate interiors with their delicate balance of composition and the luminosity of his colors.
Here is a composition that was influenced by the Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

vermeer in middle east
Vermeer in Middle East

 

Another great influence on my development as an artist is a more contemporary American Andrew Wyeth who’s hunting and mystical connection with landscapes of rural Maine and Pennsylvania resonates strongly with my own view of Nature. Wyeth’s choice of the tempera medium which requires contemplation and slow visual meditation on the subject matter, invites from the viewer equally slow contemplative viewing. In today’s hasty world it is in itself a huge accomplishment.

church in ruins
Church in ruins

 

With time, my themes have varied and mutated according to context, time and places I have found myself.

At certain point I have found that many of my themes tend to converge into one recurring theme that has accompanied my creative work and that is the theme of the cafe.

 

I have found that besides a great opportunity to exercise my powers of observation, this theme of the cafe, allows me to combine all other themes in a very simple, elegant way where the spontaneous interaction of all the forms untie to create a unified and sometimes totally unexpected message.

The theme of the cafe is enough in itself and need no other justifications for painting it but as it happens, it has the power to combine a wide variety of objects and themes that seamlessly fuse into each other allowing the mundane everyday objects to interact and create a whole new possibilities for flowing in different artistic directions.

Let’s say, a couple sitting around a table, with a dog playing at their feet, with some messy still-life on the table, with cups of coffee and perhaps some food, in the background. I can paste any landscape or cityscape that doesn’t even have to be in the original composition. This way I can eliminate accidental architecture or replace any other object that feels more meaningful and more appropriate for the final purpose .

In this age of photoshop aid with the cut and paste ability, I can substitute any and all of the components to create a more meaningful and more interesting composition then the original conception.

All these themes and objects, appearing in the context of a cycle of creativity that is inspired by a wheel of The Five Elements taken from the Chinese Wu Xing theory.
On this wheel of creativity taken from the Chinese philosophy of Dao i will write later in a different post

 

Finding true place and balance between Divine Providence and Luck

Tomorrow night is a New Year evening and it is a great time for some retrospective general account of what happened in 2015.

I think that without exaggerating much, it was an amazing year marking a very dramatic turning point in my life and I believe in my art as well.

The summer of 2014 was a culminating point for my decision to sell my apartment in Tel Aviv and move to live in Budapest. Since it is a general bird view account, I will not enter into the specific details of all the reasons for making such a drastic decision.

Perhaps mentioning just a few will be enough to give some background and perspective.

Feeling fed up with living in a region with constant high level of violence and wars was one.
The idea of having to put up with an endless cycles of aggression coming from one side with a following retribution from another side has reached it’s limit in innermost being.Standing in front of my easel in my studio in Tel Aviv , trying to concentrate on making art while the sirens warning of a missile attack coming from the south, leaving only few minutes to run for shelter, broke trough my denials related to the need for the constant sacrifice demanded by living in such a place.
Once the denials have come up to the surface it become clearer that along with the constant violence there comes a heavy price tag based on constant reliance on the fight and flight mechanism of the reptilian brain. The constant concern about the need for security in the region ridden with violence, do not leave much place for activating the more humane portion of the  limbic brain that is needed for cultivating imagination, inspiration and all other requirements for making art that comes from inner peace of mind.

Moving away from Middle East, I have embarked on a few months of exploration of an alternative place, finding myself in the beautiful region of lake Como in northern Italy, sketching outdoors , soaking my eyes in the majestic beauty of the mountains with all the little lovely villages spread around the lake like little gems, with endless vistas for great compositions.

 

departing from Bellagio to Varenna on Lake Como.

on the ferry to Varenna
Bellagio

After spending some time in the beautiful village of Varenna, I have realised that it was too touristic for me as place to spend the rest of my life and decided to move on with my search for that place that  is sitting on a historic power point, allowing convergence of natural beauty with rich cultural life . With all due respect for picturesque little villages such as Varenna, they usually luck the depth of a bustling centre with rich cultural life with enough chaos to allow for fermentation of art that is more then depicting natural beauty.
The fact that I have found such convergence in Budapest was due to combination of pure luck with a dash of Divine Providence.
I make a distinction between the two even though they might seem to be the same .
In my opinion, we encounter luck when we able to cultivate an attitude of courtship towards Divine Providence.
As an artist I believe that it is not much different from an attitude of a constant openness for the appearance of the Muse.

Inspiration comes when we keep ourselves on alert for the magic in everyday life.
When life is a flow of little moments of wonder and gratitude for the what seems to be the obvious but with a deeper introspection are filled with grandeur and awe.
My meeting with Eva was a moment of magic that has determined the direction of the flow to the region of my birth place and early childhood.
In spite of the fact that I was born on the border of Hungary in the Carpathian region of west Ukraine and the fact that my childhood years were influenced very much by the Hungarian culture, Budapest was not an obvious choice from the beginning if my journey.
It was only after I met Eva that it became clear that everything what I was looking for in a place to live could be found in a place like Budapest. Amazing natural beauty, rich cultural life, deep historical roots and people with natural warmth who’s language I could understand because of my own heritage and childhood roots.
With Eva’s appearance in my life, the obviousness of the choice of Budapest has become very clear in spite of the fact that no place on Earth today can offer everything and no place is a complete paradise as we live in times of great turmoil and constant strife that comes with the transitioning from the dying World order with obsolete ideas of control into a New Era of dynamic equilibrium required to balance the new principles of sustainability with an opening towards a new vision of Earth as a living Gaia full of magic and love.
With the excitement of finding my true mate, my true place came some personal health issues that required my opening to the fragility of life and the need to balance the great changes and find a pace of living that is much calmer and restful .
At the same time the exciting journey of exploration focusing on the new patterns of life have opened new possibilities that have started to appear in my art with a better flow of creativity that comes when inspiration meets right time with right place.

I am still in a process of transition and there are many old patterns that are still hard to get rid of, especially those that are connected to the deep seated fears connected to the flight and fight reptilian brain patterns,  but it is becoming clearer that the new year that starts tomorrow night will be a year of many new beginnings that will deepen and stabilise the transition into the new life.
Happy New Year .

Cityscaping in Budapest

Citiscaping at Mechvart liget
Citiscaping at Mechvart liget

Summer is here and with it the opportunity to do some cityscaping.
One of the privileges of living in a beautiful city, I guess is the fact that the eye can feast in almost any direction it looks.
In the photo above, I have started a new composition yesterday in my neighbourhood of Rose Hill in Buda.
I must admit that I love the challenges of the cityscaping.
One is finding the right spot.
In my opinion, finding the right spot is more then just finding what pleases the eye. There is of course the obvious sight that draws attention of the eye. Then, there is the special angle that is not too conspicuous and is a little of the main flow of the pedestrian flow. Yesterday, I was lucky to find a balcony of a restaurant that is in renovation so I had plenty of shade and even got a chair from the renovation workers.I guess luck is also a very important element in life and it is truly so in finding the right spot for the right composition.
Roaming the streets, exploring the place one lives in, looking for points of interest that go beyond what meets the eye is a very enjoyable preliminary action that creates a nice workflow with initial sketches and first impressions.
In my case, since I am new to my neigbothood, this kind of search for the right spot has an additional value of getting to know the place where I live.
Second, is having the right gear.
Well, there is the obvious stuff like the portable easel, the paints and the materials but there are the less obvious stuff that many times can make a significant difference between a pleasant work session and a disturbed one in which you look for a paper towel to clean either your hand or a paint that was dropped and cannot be left on the pavement.
I mean, there is an absolute need to leave your place without a trace of your activity .
It is more then being considerate. In case of oil painting with all the hazardous materials of turpentine and paint thinning mediums, it is important to have a disposable trash plastic bag that will keep your used paper towels from being scattered all over by the wind. I was lucky yesterday cause I didn’t have a trash bag but there was no wind so my  used paper towels didn’t fly all over the place.
Since I am planning to make a video tutorial about the whole subject of landscape and cityscape painting, i will not go into details about it right now but just wanted to mention these obvious prerequisites .
The third challenge, in my opinion is the most important and it is a need for a  fair amount of tolerance for being distracted by the audience.
No matter how secluded is your spot, there will always be an audience. I mean,if your spot is not in the flow of the daily routine pedestrian traffic  most people will not notice you and go about their usual business.
Some people, take a peek and sometimes smile since a street painter is not a very common everyday sight.
Some people will stop by and will ask your permission to watch .I personally do not mind and usually agree. I know some artists become too self conscious and cannot work with an audience watching over their shoulder.
I guess , years of teaching have thought me to be able to concentrate on my work without feeling too self conscious.
Sometimes if you are open for it, there is a conversation that develops and sometimes it flows into a real interest either to see more of your work or even buy. In this case ,painting outdoors is a kind of promotion of your work. Once in while, though there is the one or two exceptional people who will start tell you their life stories or about their uncles, grandma, children, spouses paintings, seasoned with anecdotes of personal details. Personally, I have found that the best way to send them away is by simply ignoring them.
All in all, there is a need to develop a bit of exhibitionism in order to enjoy the outdoor painting. Without it, the whole experience can be an unpleasant encounter with a crowd that disturbs your creative flow.
Here is a video of the famous Spanish artist Antonio Lopez Garcia trying  desperately to disperse a crowd blocking his view on the Puerto Del Sol Square.
Of course one can always ask what is the motivation of an artist to paint outdoors in one of the busiest and most visited by tourists square in the world with full knowledge of the conditions.In  early spring, I had an opportunity to do some plain air watercolour sketching in the north of Hungary at the Balaton , Kaptalanfured area.

sketching at the lake
sketching at the lake

There is a nice complementary relationship that exists between the two modes of outdoor painting.
The plain air, landscape painting as an independent theme  exists from the early Romantics for whom Nature with all her glory was more then just an interesting subject matter. It was an anchor point to escape the stifling constrains of Neo Classicist era with the emphasis on moralistic , historical subject matter with greys and browns as the dominant colors.The beginning of the modern era had a need for a  fresh, new philosophy that today we would call ecologically conscious philosophy with the Noble Savage at it’s core.
Budapest is an amazing city for cityscaping and almost any location you choose, you can find many interesting angles from which to start a composition.
I am not referring of course to the obvious tourist postcard vistas like the Parliament house, the Chain Bridge or the Fishermen Bastion, even though, I am sure it is possible to escape the obvious postcard view with the right kind of orientation.
Here is an old painting where I have incorporated an element of the Chain Bridge and combined it with my ongoing theme of the cafe.

chain bridge cafe
chain bridge cafe
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