Archive for September 14th, 2022

Flowers in Stone/Klee

Paul Klee Flowers in Stone. wo title

Paul Klee- Flowers in Stone (1939)

Formerly we used to represent things visible on earth, things we either liked to look at or would have liked to see. Today we reveal the reality that is behind visible things, thus expressing the belief that the visible world is merely an isolated case in relation to the universe and that there are many more other, latent realities. Things appear to assume a broader and more diversified meaning, often seemingly contradicting the rational experience of yesterday. There is a striving to emphasize the essential character of the accidental.

Paul Klee, Section V – Creative Credo (1920)

During a short break yesterday, I was scanning through social media and the image above popped up on my feed. I have expressed my admiration for the artist Paul Klee many times in the past and have looked at a lot of his work, but this piece was new to me.

And it stopped me in my tracks.

I don’t know how to fully explain it but something that I was seeing in this work hit as close to whatever it is that I desire (and need) to see in art. It set off all sorts of inner alarms that had me scrambling to discern what it was in this piece that brought on such a reaction.

I couldn’t tell if it was its subject or the colors, forms, linework, or textures that comprised it. The title is Flowers in Stone but I wasn’t seeing it as a floral piece in any way. I actually wasn’t seeing it as any physical object at first.

It just had a nonspecific symbolic impact that didn’t need to be identified or named.

The feeling I felt was at first pure elation, as though I was looking at something that somehow answered longstanding questions. Like a bright beam of light suddenly cast in abject darkness. An epiphany of some sort.

But I didn’t know if the answers and questions I was seeing were the same as those posed in this painting. Maybe it was this accidental discovery in that which doesn’t directly correspond to the meaning intended by the artist that makes art so subjective, so personally relatable.

After all, you might well look at this and not be moved at all, not see anything that stirs anything within you. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Your honest response is yours alone and only you can say what moves you.

That is the gift and beauty of art.

But for me, seeing this picture wiped me out for about an hour yesterday afternoon. The elation turned to a deep feeling of sorrow and diminishment. I felt as though I was looking at a perfect expression of something that was beyond myself and my capabilities, something which was still eluding me in my own work.

I felt as though the artistic horizon I mentioned in yesterday’s blog was suddenly pushed further away from me. I suddenly was unsure if I was up to the task, of if I was even deserving to be attempting to reach for it.

I sat there deeply moved, both fulfilled and crushed. How do you start at that point? Why go on with this futile act?

The answer, of course, comes in picking up the brush, making a mark and going to work. Something in that simple act usually puts me back on the path towards that horizon once more.

Sometimes producing a single stroke of paint is a fully encapsulated work of art in itself, obscuring all the doubts and providing answers to questions not yet asked, having much the same effect that Klee’s painting had on me.

I ended up having a very good afternoon in the studio. Surprisingly, after feeling deflated and pushed back from that horizon earlier, I felt like I was a step or two nearer to it than I was at the beginning of the day.

And that, my friends, is always a good day.

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