Art Comment Quarterly
Eoin's Aphorisms and Exhortations for the Artist - No. 5
"Do not confuse sensation or emotion with spirituality in art. Emotion is to spirituality what sex is to love."
- Eoin de Leastar
Editor's note: If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Eoin de Leastar should be pleased that his Aphorisms and Exhortations are being quoted in other publications. We have noticed that from these pages of Art Comment (the only published source of his Aphorisms and Exhortations) Eoin has been re-quoted by, among others, ArtLex Art Dictionary where his words have been incorporated into their lexicon of art terms. Even as such flattery should make Eoin proud, his family would like to take light-hearted exception to the wording used by Request a Nude: "As Eoin de Leaestar once said . . ." They would like to assure everyone that Eoin is still very alive and kicking.
Variations on a Theme Exhibition Series: Out of India
This exhibition showcases the Indian artist members of ArtVitae.com. As individuals they are as diverse as nationals anywhere. Taken as a group however, one could recognise competing themes of either delightfully enchanting images of local colour, or, to take a darker view, testaments to the greed and exploitation of the 'First World' as evidenced in these artists' depictions of life in post-colonial India. Please take a look and judge for yourself. Better still, contact these artists, thank them for sharing their souls online, or even buy a piece.
Intention Versus Interpretation in Art
A question that forever baffles students of Art is whether it is the Art Critic or an Artist himself who gives the most valid explanation of what an artist's work is all about. It might seem obvious to some that, of course, the artist is the best source because he has created the work. Others would argue that the artist is an unwitting product of his environment, merely a conduit of a something greater than himself.
This issue of Art Comment presents two reviews; one about the work of John Nolan written by himself, and one written by Yours Truly about the work of Desmond Shortt, with a follow-up letter form the artist.
Journey into the Abstract by John Nolan
"My journey into the abstract began when I first saw a painting by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) - Impression 3. Immediately I was enraptured by this masterpiece - It said something to me which I did not understand, but transmitted a feeling of awe and wonderment. I didn't realise that Kandinsky had challenged the conventional ideas of painting and developed a new visual language - a different means of expression in painting -The Abstract .
An Artist's Atonement
Thirty years later I still experience this wonderment and awe when viewing the same painting. At the age of 15 years, I was very familiar with the history of art as my father was an artist and we were continuously being bombarded with art books .On viewing Kandinsky I experienced an apotheosis which to this day remains with me and fuels my ongoing journey into the abstract. . . . "
Read John Nolan's FULL TEXT.
"As I sipped from a delicate china tea cup in the warm kitchen in Desmond Shortt's family home, I spied early evidences of what was to become the full circle of Des's journey toward personal and artistic atonement. Everywhere was the stuff you would expect to see in the home of a woman of Des' mother's generation. Widowed when Des was only eleven, her lovely home is festooned with floral motifs on crowded soft furnishings, tea towels and cozies adorned with precious images of maidens dressed in Little-Bo-Peep style costumes. Even on the cup from which I sipped, was the decal image of a sixteenth century Lady on her garden swing. . . "
"Any allusion to this visual brew of chintzy homely images would have been eschewed as embarrassing to the maturing young Des in his heady academic years studying Art in Cork and at the UDC Dublin. There Des sought direction, validation, and the acceptance of his teachers and peers in the digestion and regurgitation of the current art fashions promulgated by the big, ballsy materialistic art giants in NYC and London and the provincial interpretations thereof in Dublin. . . . "
Read Desmond Shortt's FULL TEXT.
The Aesthetics of Self by Cardinal Ratsael
We are very pleased and honoured to have received another occasional contribution from our favourite irascible cleric, Cardinal Ratsael:
"You can fast for 40 days and still remain a fool. The self-mortifications that I daily practice, the louse-angry hair shirt that I wear, my quietude, my deathly pallor, my years spent in extraordinary and anonymous acts of chastity; these are in the end but the hoary tricks of asceticism.
Humility alas, is not gained by acts of self abnegation, and I will not speak here of my own epulotic humility lest I too succumb to the sin of our first parents; for as Xenophanes says humility is 'not lowering oneself but knowing oneself ' Yet in the desert one gains a fierce clarity and it is in this light that I compare asceticism (the art of abstinence) and, aestheticism (the art of art) and maintain that the latter is to the former an obverse and licentious sister.
For what has art become but the apotheosis of the self. Attend to any modern museum and observe some bloated self-referential carcass suspended in its own admiration, some crass idea or some casual markings marked out for veneration (as though irony is only of interest when banal, as though drawing is only true when incompetent). One cannot blame the artists for this they are like unruly children who after several thousand years are told 'do as you please' (or rather 'please your self').
But the real scandal comes from the literate; the flaccid oleaginous commentary that passes for criticism. What is fascinating for me as an old schoolman, in both the art work and the art speak, is the wonderful poverty of intelligence. Truly we live in the age of the mediocre genius.
There is an innocent fatuity about it all. The following jewel comes from a director of a modern museum on a cold wet island on the north west of Europe:
"Writing about art is still the key mechanism for the creation of memory and the historicisation of meaning and value in time."
I have to confess that the ineffably preposterous nature of these words gives me an almost concupiscent pleasure, I often think of them when daydreaming or when looking at a horse's behind.
I console myself with Horace lovely lines: lustum et tenacem propositi uirum / non ciuium ardour praua iubentium . . . which needs no translation.
It may seem a curious admission for a prelate to make but there is a secret which the pontificate holds which I am now about to divulge:
The truth is that the gods do exist and they still play with our lives with unholy abandon. Therefore I am mindful of a question that the great Xenophanes posed to a group of sculptors working on the Parthenon, Phidias' boys full of sweat and swagger. What is it about humans that makes the gods laugh out loud? Answer: self expression."
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"On the occasion of this year's winter solstice celebration, all the staff at ArtVitae.com wish you all tolerance, charity, understanding, and humour during this holiday season."
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