Posted on July 8, 2015
ALLEN GINSBERG – SUNFLOWER SUTRA
(Adam Cope – ‘A Perfect Beauty’, watercolour 2010, A4 prints available).
Here’s an excerpt :
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye
to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
René Char – De Moment en Moment
“Pourquoi ce chemin plutôt que cet autre ? Où mène-t-il pour nous solliciter si fort ?
Quels arbres et quels amis sont vivants derrière l’horizon de ses pierres, dans le lointain miracle de la chaleur ?
Nous sommes venus jusqu’ici car là où nous étions ce n’était plus possible. On nous tourmentait et on allait nous asservir.
Le monde, de nos jours, est hostile aux transparents. Une fois de plus, il a fallu partir…
Et ce chemin qui ressemblait à un long squelette, nous a conduit à un pays qui n’avait que son souffle pour escalader l’avenir.
Comment montrer, sans les trahir, les choses simples dessinées entre le crépuscule et le ciel ?
Par la vertu de la vie obstinée, dans la boucle du temps artiste, entre la mort et la beauté.”
Poème de René Char, extrait de sa préface de “La postérité du soleil” d’Albert Camus
From Time to Time
Why this path rather than that one? Where does it go to, in urging us on so strongly? What trees and what friends are living beyond the horizon of these stones, in the distant miracle of the heat? We have come right up to here because where we were beforehand was no longer possible. One was tormented and enslaved. The world of today is hostile to the Transparents. Once more, we had to leave …. And this path, which resembled a long skeleton, led us to a country which could use only its own breathe to climb up into the future. How to show, without betraying them, the simple things sketched out between the sunset and the sky? By virtue of obstinate life, in the ring of the Time of the artist, between death & beauty.
René Char 1949 (translation adam cope)
Peter Porter – ‘Europe, An Ode.’1970
(‘Our Stormy Mother Europe.’ Adam Cope. Oil on panel. 1994. Sold)
I can’t find an online version of the poem but it ends like this:
There for the fallen Gothic Museums glow,
Enthusiastic doubt like sun motes
Turns to dandruff on old shoulders:
At the start of the world, the beholders
Find the permanent kingdom and this Peninsula, its rational Europe
Where the blood has dried to Classic Or Gothic, cinema names in aspic.
But the giant iron is ours, too: It flies, it sings, it is carried to god — We come from it, the Father, maker and healer,
And from Oviraptor, the egg-stealer,
Launched in the wake of our stormy mother
To end up on a tideless shore
Which this is the dream of, a place
Of skulls, looking history in the face.
I read this in the early nineties, when Pax Europeana was disintegrating at the borders with the break up of Tito’s Yugoslavia. We watched on as ethnic cleansing came once more to Europe. The tower in my painting is the watch tower from which the nazi SS quelled the Warsaw Uprising…. Our Stormy Mother Europe.
It has been said that the beautiful form Leopardi gave his nihilism negated the validity of nihilism. I would say that even though cultural dissolution is Porter’s main subject, the quality of his treatment of it demonstrates that the moment of cultural dissolution is not yet. – Clive James http://www.clivejames.com/pieces/metropolitan/porter
Posted on May 17, 2015
As a spiritual person, nature for me has always been a healing place. Going back all the way to my childhood on the farm, the fields and forests were places of adventure and self-discovery. Animals were companions and friends, and the world moved at a slower, more rational pace than the bustling cities where I’d resided my adult life. – David Mixner
Posted on July 14, 2014
And this acrylic of a house in sunshine, not a demonstration painting:
Posted on April 27, 2014
A romance, a dream, a fantasy. These cliffs in Quercy Périgord, where the people of the Ice Age once lived. They mark my mental landscape, as they must have also made a deep impression on the minds of the hunter-gatherers.
Romanticism attempts an affective fusion between person & her enviroment. Science attempts to practice detached objective observation. The person outside of her enviroment. The slow methodical sifting through of data & remains… But can we ever truly take off the lens of our own vision that shapes that which we think we are clearly seeing… Also, can we we ever see as these hunter-gatherers saw? What would they have made of my notions & prejudices? As an artist, not as an archeologist with their attempts at objectivity & science. Prehistoric art speaks to me 30 000 years later. Not as they intended it to communicate … But should we delegate all of our human past uniquely to be the domain of science? ‘We will never truly know what they meant’ as the guide drones on at every visit… But human history is a history of evolution, where one understanding evolves into another. Intentionally or not.
The meaning of things aren’t stable. Anything can mean almost anything – Jasper Johns
However, preamble aside… one thing is certain : Birds live in cracks & holes of cliffs , than as of now. OK Doubtless not the same species. No swifts in the Ice Age? Crows maybe. Owls yes. Buzzards probably not.
But the vertigo of looking up & seeing the birds swirling around. Then as now.
I also tried to draw the aviform as part of the cliff, as part of the geology, as growing out from the rock formation itself. As a motif that repeats itself , morphing into various transpositions:
There’s a good research paper about ‘abstract’ geometric symbols & signs in prehistoric rock art by Genevieve von Petzinger:
While animal depictions are a common theme in most known regions where rock art is present, the choice of what to portray seems to be contextual, with image-makers generally choosing contemporary fauna from their local environment (Rice and Paterson 1986; Clottes 1996).
AVIFORM (avi = bird) : Less than 10% of sites worldwide – 30,000 & 13,000 years ago
(aviforms) are also concentrated in the later half of the Ice Age (almost entirely from 22,000 years onwards), strongly suggesting that this may have been a local invention/innovation, rather than having been something that was brought with the first humans who moved to this continent.
Aviforms are also sometimes named ‘Signes du Placard’ , after another painted cave in SW France : Grotte de Placard in the Charente, following the tradition of naming prehistory after eponymous sites, the geographic place where the element of prehistory wa s first found. Hence cro-magnon, Mousterian, Gravettian, etc. (Most of which are found in France by French archeologists & where accompanied by proud nationalist rhetoric of ‘Les Premiers Francais’ …) Apparently most aviform signs in prehistoric rock art are concentrated around South West France, with a particularly high density of repetition around the Célé valley in the Lot.
In the nearby painted cave of Pech Merle, not far from the cliff in my above drawing, there’s the famous ‘wounded man’. A conjugaison of aviform sign & a figurative depiction i.e. the sign doesn’t exist on its own (but we don’t know if this is intentional or not, other than comparing to other groupings of drawings in the cave, where again sign & figuration co-exist in the same grouping). The aviform sign is attached to a drawing of a man with lines coming out from his body. Some have interpreted these as spears. Others such as Professor Lewis-Williams reads them as suggestive of as symbolic depictions of the physical cramps that shamans sometimes undergo before entering a trance state.
A stray thought : why not wings? The dream of flight occurs to most children & lucid dreamers… a prehistoric superman power cape? Prehistory is full of depictions of humans dressing up as other animals.
Posted on April 8, 2014
Stone lithograph of a cliff – “the elephant”
We, mankind, arose amidst the wandering of the ice and marched with it. We are in some sense shaped by it, as it has shaped the stones. Perhaps our very fondness for the building of stone alignments, dolmens, and pyramids reveals unconsciously an ancient heritage from the ice itself, the earth shaper.
– Loren Eisley
Mountains do not lack the characteristic of mountains. Therefore they always abide in ease and always walk. Examine in detail the characteristic of the mountains’ walking. – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra
Mountains’ walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains’ walking even though it does not look the same as human walking. You should penetrate these words. If you doubt mountains’ walking, you do not know your own walking. – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra
I came to realize clearly that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide Earth, the sun and the moon and the stars. – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra
Posted on March 22, 2014
Interesting to see the same landscape view in three different mediums : drawing, watercolour & stone lithography.
Different material, different effect.
Each medium is good for certain effects. In the above three images,, watercolour is delicate colours & brushmarks, conté is so immediate & so fresh, lithography is good for a design, a powerful composition.
What does ‘Medium’ Mean in Fine Art Practice?
See the world through art materials…
The creative process lies not in imitating, but in paralleling nature – translating the impulse received from nature into the medium of expression, thus vitalizing this medium. The picture should be alive, the statue should be alive, and every work of art should be alive. – Hans Hofmann
I often work in both watercolour & oil painting. I enjoy the translation from one medium to another. Same view, different vision.
In this case, the watercolour came after the oil, and so, I consider it to be a lot more than a study for the oil painting. Some historians tend to classify drawings & watercolours as preliminary studies for a more substantial, more resolved painting. Here for example is one of my tonal studies for a painting , but it is fresh enough, coherant enough to stand alone :
Posted on February 28, 2014
Posted on February 14, 2014
Watercolour from last autumn. Love this place : pure happiness.
Painted on handmade paper from the dordogne ‘moulin de larroque’
Posted on February 2, 2014
This Candlemas morning (“festa candelarum”, the festival of candles), there was the first ray of sunlight after weeks of heavy rain. The light is again high & strong. I’m yearning for spring & fresh air & sunlight.
This watercolour from March last year. Hope that February won’t be rude or glacial! It can be freezing & extreme in February here in the Dordogne. Half way through winter now!
In pre-Christian times, this day was known as the ‘Feast of Lights’ and celebrated the increase strength of the life-giving sun as winter gave way to spring. – http://projectbritain.com/year/candlemas.html
Posted on January 25, 2014
This was the last lotus flower of 2013 that I saw on the lotus pond. Somewhat battered by the winds & cold nights here in the Dordogne. But still offering up its golden heart, despite of it all.
I love the life cycles of flowers. Yes they reach apogee, perfection then deteriorate, disband, fall apart. Sometimes even in the time span of a morning. Doesn’t this transience make them all the more beautiful?
Currently enjoying the tips of sprouting daffs & hyacinths in the garden.