Sunday, December 2, 2012

old and new worlds, experiment, picasso, african art, el greco

self-portrait exploring new worlds ~ frank waaldijk
self-portrait exploring new worlds (own work, 1987-2012, 45 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

[also see the previous post] technical, emotional and psychological experimenting, trying to get to the essence. this work i started when i was in art school (art academy utrecht). almost needless to say, my teachers often didn't quite get what i was driving at, although they thought my work of high quality.

for them, any work i made was to be seen as an exercise, something to repeat at least 10 times, so that they could comment on every stage, and understand where it came from and was headed. for me, i was doing what the title suggests, and for me this is not served by studious repetition.

therefore i still have unfinished works from that period, works that i spent quite some time and effort on then, but was unable to bring to any satisfactory conclusion. in the past 10 years, i've been finishing a number of these `old' works, since nowadays my direction is clearer and my skills have improved.

this also reflects on how i see an artist's development: there is progress, but early periods have their own psychological merit and need not be discarded for lack of skills. on a different scale, i feel the same way about (art) history in general. modern art is all very fine, but... again like i wrote a few posts ago, perhaps george steiner was right in saying that our civilization is past its prime [in a 1989 dutch television series `nauwgezet en wanhopig']

steiner illustrated this feeling with comments about picasso, saying that picasso in essence only commented on the great masters of the past. so let's take a look once more at picasso's inspiration sources. perhaps i mentioned african art earlier on this blog?:

picasso en afrikaanse kunst

but did i mention its influence on les demoiselles d'avignon, the famous painting that picasso worked feverishly on for months, with hundreds of prepatory sketches? (and which he would not show)

picasso, les demoiselles d'avignon
pablo picasso, les demoiselles d'avignon

but one also discerns the catalan-romanic art influences from medieval times.

another major inspiration for les demoiselles d'avignon was the following masterpiece of el greco:

el greco, opening of the fifth seal
el greco, the opening of the fifth seal of the apocalypse

a painting which could have been painted yesterday as far as modernity and experiment goes, but which stems from the beginning of the 17th century, in the last years of el greco's life.


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