Tuesday, September 13, 2005
For many artists and critics, Andrew Wyeth is as much of a punchline as Robert Bateman. Their very success is an affront to the struggle of the artist. They are famous, wealthy, and their art is rooted in idealized images of nature and the past. At least, to some minds.
I'm not so sure.
Are these artists truly trying to hang on in desperation to fantasy landscapes of an unchanging, mundane history, rejecting modernism and progress? Are they hopelessly prosaic and out of touch with the incessant beat of the cultural zeitgeist?
But I still like their work.
I am completely unembarrassed by this. In fact, I don't just like the work of Bateman and Wyeth, I absolutely love it.
I see yearnings for the preservation of something sacred and special : quietude.
What I mean is, they seem to be communicating the simple dignity of nature. The beauty of small lives and big dreams and more importantly, that will o' the wisp that we lose in the noise and confusion of contemporary life. I'm talking about Mystery.
Darkness. Silence broken only by the sound of wind through grass or tree. A distant hoot of an owl, or the screech of an eagle, fierce with the hunt. Dank, rotting smells, hidden under fallen trunks of once mighty trees, and the deepening shadows of an overcast sky.
But lo, there is light. An effusion of light, an orchestra of glinting pearls of sunshine caught in dew drops, or reflected off of whitewashed walls. The smell of the ocean, and dust.
The compostions have more in common with Mondrian and Warhol than with Turner or Constable. They are bold, sharp, unexpected. Complexity hidden in simplicity.
There are those who disagree, and I say...do so! But for myself, I'll not rob my eyes and my heart of such delicate insights and outstanding work.
Posted by Aaron Paquette