Saturday, 5 October 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Eye of the Beholder

Describe what it feels like to hear a beautiful piece of music or see a stunning piece of art. 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BEAUTY.

Pampas 2013
My pampas in the garden at the moment, showing its artistic side

Beauty is all around us; perhaps it needs a point in the right direction. I certainly did. My background was not such an art appreciative society. I remember a pen and ink drawing my grandfather made of a dog next to his kennel. It hung in grandad’s room; he was a carpenter by trade and had an artistic flare but definitely never had a chance to develop it. His job was to earn money and make sure the family did not starve, although I do believe as a young man a lot of his money was deposited in the local public house, transformed into liquid supports (beer).

In my younger years I enjoyed a visit to the local museum where they had a permanent display of paintings and I would perhaps indulge in a visit to the National Art Gallery in London, so I was not entirely without culture or art. Music was always part of my surroundings, my dad a keen follower of jazz from the 30’s and 40’s, and I grew up surrounded by the birth of beat music. At school we were supplied with a background of classical music, and I even managed ten years of learning how to play the piano. I was a keen opera visitor together with a good school friend and I knew most of the arias, stories and music.

Knowing what Picasso, Dali, and other modern painters were all about did not lay in my education. Anything modern did not qualify as art in my childhood days, it was all airy fairy stuff with eyes in the wrong place, dots and colour squares, something to be compared with a children’s drawing and definitely not worth the money paid. A painting bought on the local market, reproduced in the thousands, perhaps showing an average landscape or a portrait of an unknown woman would qualify as something good. When mum and dad eventually moved because our old house was demolished (so-called slum-clearance) one of their first purchases was a painting for the wall. I think it was the thing to do at the time. They thought it was a nice painting, everyone had one so it must be nice. The problem was that everyone did have one, the same one.

I really have to thank Mr. Swiss for my further education in art. He is a talented artist in my eyes (definitely) and had lessons as a youngster from an artist. He showed me the various techniques of painting and I learnt what an aquarelle from him. I also learnt that oil painting should not be executed in the apartment, but better outside on the patio. Oil paints do arrive with an accompanying scent.  We have many of his paintings hanging at home. I do not paint myself, cannot paint, have no talent, but he does.

We visited many art exhibitions together. I remember one particular exhibition, the Pablo Picasso exhibition in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. They were showing his “blue” period. Picasso had not achieved his ultra-modern design yet but they were going in that direction; the difference between the expert, like Mr. Swiss, and me when visiting an exhibition. He can stand a long while in front of a painting, noticing its fine details and me? Sorry I do appreciate the paintings, really, but am probably an impatient gazer. How often have we lost each other in a museum or art gallery because I have already moved on to the next room.

We spent a week in Paris. Yes, of course we had a look at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, who does not. This is art, something unique, but surrounded by so many people and encased behind bullet proof glass, a warning system and who knows what else, it does destroy a little of the magic, but we saw it. Centre Pompidou was also on the list, the more modern items, but this visit to Paris seemed to really impress on my cultureless-mind what art is, laid perhaps a solid foundation for my future interest.

I have my favourites, Margritte, Dali, yes everything a bit in the realm of fantasy, the strange, but if we all liked the same, life in the art world would become monotonous and boring. I remember a visit to the Ermitage in St. Petersburg as a 17 year old, a side chance from a school trip including 2 days Russia. If only I had known more at the time, could remember today the works of art I saw, the chance of a lifetime. I will probably no longer have the possibility to revisit this temple of art, but who knows.

My niece is an art historian and she once took us on a tour of a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition held in Zürich, the painter who I believe even lived in the desert and her works are of objects found in the sand, also wonderful paintings of flowers. To have the paintings explained and to see what the artist was achieving opens a new world of understanding. I have never become an expert in an arty direction, but my interest is awakened.

What it feels? A sort of feeling of satisfaction, there is a difference in seeing replicas in print, or looking at reproductions in Internet and being able to experience the real thing. To see the light reflecting on the painting, to see it actually taking life and not just flat paint on a canvas.

Music is similar, although music can go through your body. I love music, but need peace and quiet in certain situations. I remember visiting a modern music concert with my son. I am sure the decibels made permanent damage to my ears, which were still whistling the next morning and I walked home with a strange muffled feeling in my hearing. Of course, visiting an opera or concert is something different. I tend to go with the music, feel it inside and almost transposed into another world. Music is a sort of accompanying background at home. If we are not occupied with concentrating on something else, there is always a rhythm of jazz, classics, or just entertaining music in the background.

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1 comment:

  1. It's all really in the eye, or ear, of the beholder. It's very subjective, and each person will react in a different way to a given piece of art or music. Just like with a good novel, a great piece of music will transport me to another place, another world. Music isn't a background thing for me, it has to be something that occupies my full attention. I think that is why I prefer instrumental music, be it classical or modern electronic, or even jazz. Words/voices I find a distraction from my own mental image of the music. I think for similar reasons, I prefer modern art to classical art. That's not to say I don't appreciate the classics, I very much do.....but when you see a painting by a classical artist....they have already told you what the story is, what the world in the painting is. It is there to be appreciated, but there is nothing for the viewer to add to it. With modern art, such as abstract and impressionism, there is still a large element for the viewer to add their own interpretation to it.