Although “Art of Seeing” — as a branch of my website — was born in 2015, it is only in 2016 that it started crawling out of its cradle. I have just re-read the whole year of it — as a part of my slow end-of-year review of 2016, and in an attempt to understand what it wants to grow into in 2017.
The site was originally intended solely as a platform for two courses on how to look at paintings, look at them deeply so as to really see them, and to learn how to see: “The Art of Seeing as an Artist” — on how to learn by looking, and “The Making of a Painting Masterpiece” — on how to learn by doing. That’s how it worked for the first two months of 2016, and there are some later posts which, thematically, belong with these two courses, but only few of them hold up in re-reading:
- How to look at a painting: on the practice of deep contemplation.
- Fast-track to painting mastery: on why and how learning by re-making masterpieces works.
- How to study colour harmony: on how to learn from masterpieces by colour-charting them.
- How to see the invisible and say the unsayable: on Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein.
But in April, the blog started a painful transformation — all the more painful because I did not recognise it for what it was, focused as I was on posting something with some regularity. The blog veered away from teaching something I know well to something that I can only describe as Art trying to look back at itself, and its long and uneasy relationship with humankind, using the eyes and the mind of this particular artist for this — a path of difficult discoveries not quite aligned with supposedly didactic purposes. Some of these essays, too, were interesting to re-read (and they probably contain some seeds for the site’s further evolution):
- Why painting series: the first approach to this topic, fully from the human point of view.
- Huxley on the doors of perception and Van Gogh’s chair: on the tension between Art and spirituality.
- Artist’s aporia: on the need to throw away the comfort of consensus and embrace the disorienting state of not knowing what you see.
- Art in the Age of Consciousness series: on how Art emerges in the space between spirit and matter, and how it can become the space of freedom for human beings:
- Nietzsche and cave paintings
- Ancient Greece and the breakdown of bicameral mind
- Can art save us in the chaotic breakdown of rational mind? (written in the aftermath of US presidential election).
- Path to freedom (on Art as the middle way between contemplation and action).
- For the sake of a single verse — on one miraculous experience, and how art cleanses the doors of perception.
More and more, I came to see Art as a life form, a complex memetic organism, fully dependent on the humankind for its survival and evolution — just as the humankind itself depends on Planet Earth for its own survival. And from the human point of view, Art is a form of inter-personal, collective consciousness — which might be just as essential for the humankind’s continuing evolution as Planet Earth itself.
So if Art happens to want me as a space within which to look back at itself — be it in painting or in writing — then that’s what I am going to be. And the future of “Art of Seeing” will probably reflect this choice.