October 17, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — MASTER BEN LAU @ 10:58 am

As celebrated painters, are these 19th Century folks at the core, or are they just irrelevant circumstantial people situated on the circumference of art?  That is a question worth looking into, especially as our vanity always drives us to create in ourselves a persona of a “civilized, college educated individual, ” with an edge over our red-neck football loving neighbor or sisters-in- law and so on, because, unlike them, we are, among other things, museum goers, and thus have higher aspirations and so forth. Everyone is entitled to a little vanity or feeling slightly elevated, and no one can fault us for that!

 
What does it mean to be in the core then, versus being on the circumference? Well, you already know the difference between a television host and his sidekick, but let me give you another example to further clarify this point. 
 
As one walks into a medical building, one sees all kinds of workers going on their daily chores. One sees surgeons, doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, P.T., cooks, receptionists, toilet cleaners, orderlies, and what not. Yes, they may all be related to medicine one way or another, but it it is fair to say that they are not all on equal footing, and only the doctors or surgeons can be called the main operators of this healing machine called hospital. The others are no more than circumstantial workers, not equipped in any way to practice medicine, nor have they any serious relevance to the healing process in a realistic way, with the exception of the nurses, perhaps. Similarly, in that set of celebrity, say, a century’s worth of famous painters, we may have one or two artists who are truly talented, really, really indispensable to the history of art, but we also have many others who are irrelevant to this thing called true art! Who belong in these multitude? It is obvious that they are the condemned set of a million illustrators grossly mistaken to be “great masters” by general opinion. Why condemned or doomed? They are doomed because the Alpha Seer is settling the score on them, –and it is about time too, –the Alpha Seer must look eyes to eyes with them, questioning their status as celebrities! Not unlike a magician, the Alpha Seer can make them disappear in one puff with his magic wand and no one will even miss them the slightest bit. Reason?  Not only are they terribly inadequate and mediocre, by playing out their roles as impostors, they have created a formidable barrier to sound perceptions simply by their harmful presence, and it is not unfair to say that we have allowed their pretensions to blind us to truth for too long! 
 
In A, we have almost all the chief players on the 19th Century art scene, namely, Cezanne and Degas, – of course we also have Ingres and a couple of other great artists as well, but let’s just focus on these two for now. Before we go on, one is tempted to ask this question: “Why are there so few artistic geniuses in any given period of time?”  Come to think of it, it is really a good question, even though one that is extraordinarily simple to answer, but it is also a question that humanity has hardly ever addressed! Only very enlightened people like Knox Martin and Ben Lau have the privilege or the curiosity to ponder it. Again, it is quite natural for you to ask. “Is it just me or otherwise, …. ?” You would ask that question when, all of a sudden, you find yourself to be the “odd-man” in a group. It is all so natural! In fact,  I first began to ponder that question since my youth, and here for the first time let me provide my answer for it! It is by virtue of my observation that, by the Law of Natural Selection, the number of geniuses in any given period of time can never exceed the number of 100 , – and I would venture to say, around 0.00000001 percent of humanity, with the subset called ” Seers” even less. The Buddha Gautama being one shining example at point! There are much more scientific geniuses than artistic geniuses, who can also be called Seers of Beauty. For our purpose, let’s just say that the Buddha is one of the very few figures in human history to be called a Seer of Truth, but why that is so, – whether it is also true of the artistic geniuses, called the Seers of Beauty, is a mystery, if not a poignant topic for future debates. However,  it is fair to say that,  since the career path of an artist at anytime in history has never been an easy one, nor is it particularly lucrative, add to that the potential of natural endowment, the number of artistic geniuses are historically low. It was claimed that at the time of Renaissance there were hundreds of artistic geniuses, even more than the entire course of history in Egypt and China, –but that was just a childish speculation, or rather, wishful thinking. That claim was made as a hyperbole to inflate the ego of one Vasari, an art historian and old fart who had failed even to recognize Titian, as a Seer of Beauty in that period, peerless and singular! It will probably take another Alpha Seer in the future to sort things out, especially when I have never been interested in art history or statistics.  By the way, scientific geniuses cannot be correctly designated as Seers. They are no Seers, in fact. To See, one must be able to use the inner eye. The scientific geniuses only deal with what is already known. They can only lay hands on the objects that can be touched or named, phenomena that are already in existence, or whatever that can be proved by calculations, and then the scientists will postulate their theories and so forth based on the data given. That is no Seeing involved. The Seer, on the other hand, deals with the unknown, that which is without a name or an abode, never before seen nor heard of. First, think of the Buddha as a very unique human being, truly one of a kind! Then meditate on Titian, as another unique human being, peerless and immortal like a Greek god. That is how one should contemplate on, and visualize the nature of a Seer!
In any case,   1, 2, 3, 4 in A  represents 4 of Cezanne’s great masterpieces; while 5, 6, are timeless gems produced by the great ballet painter Edgar Degas. It was just a matter of coincidence that they are both French, just as Van Eyck and Rubens are both Flemish. 
 
I have also installed a minute flow-chart next to each composition so one may read at a glance as to how all the forces come into play, molding and dominating the composition consequently.  One thing surely worth noticing, – but most importantly, –since it has evolved into a sort of litmus test, a genuine hallmark for true art, – and that is the fact that the total white, –or the total black, for that matter, always makes its appearance as a great,  unique, flat, balanced form, all in one piece, with nothing hanging out and looking funny, like some dead limps of a diseased tree, nor would the composition appear as some cancerous formation under the microscope, – spilling lethal strands of toxin all over and unseemly! Take one look at where the arrows are pointing at in B 5, the Monet painting,  or the Renoir painting of  B 8, and you will see what I meant by that.
 
With a great composition, there may even be a hilarious or playful twist; for example, in 3 of Section A, in the two card players immortalized by Cezanne the total black assumes the face of a monkey, if you would, with eyes staring out from the wall, and its beastly teeth formed from the 2 human and table legs lending support to the table-top separating the seated opponents.
In 5 of Section A, in the felicity of a lone ballet dancer made timeless by Degas, the total black is essentially so compact, and its unity so eloquent, that one is not just deeply touched by the dancer’s elegance radiating from the routine of a butterfly from heaven, but also very much inspired by the steady and powerful calligraphic backbone of the composition! May I add just one more thing, –and that is, the calligraphy in the composition, with its impeccable geometry and design, has essentially become the prime propellant of this work, sending it into the orbit of No Death! 
 
On the set in B,  however, we have all the circumstantial, irrelevant, annoying and disappointing pretenders whom the whole wide world have erroneously identified as “artistic masters”! Just think of a guy called Marchel Duchamps, or such odiously abominable impostors as Kandinsky, Mama Moses, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, – and the list grows…., – and now you get the idea!
 
 It is  almost as laughable as this spectacle of a country bumpkin walking into a hospital, and out of sheer ignorance, addressing the toilet cleaner as a “medical doctor, ” even though his original intention of paying equal respect to all is commendable, and being in the grip of its tall ceilings, with its vast interior and urban designs, such as never before in his life witnessed back home, or the technologies that provides the surprises of, according to his simplistic mind,  medicinal miracles and so forth, an “OHH!” or “AHH!” may even be audible, admiration coming from inside his throat. Yet despite all good intentions, the mistake is definitely made, rendering the rural visitor a quaint, comical, course, and stupid look.
Let there be no mistake for us, though, since the comparison between a master at art to a man of medicine will end here because what makes it particularly poignant is that a Seer of Beauty like Degas exists uniquely as a very special breed of humanity, being of the set called the prime movers of civilizations; while any aspiring youth, provided that he/she is smart and hardworking enough, would have little trouble to succeed in Medicine.
 
On the other hand,  that country bumpkin scenario may be a little harsh on the mass, since true art is so specific that, even a very smart individual may be hard put to identify it if not properly enlightened beforehand in his perceptions!
 
There is no need to miss the hallmark for true art here as this chapter deals with the question of distinguishing a masterpiece from other nauseating stuffs coming to our consciousness as art, or in the name of art, – and this chapter deals with that question in the simplest presentation possible. For one thing, its writing is not embedded in convoluted language,  unfathomable philosophies or vague doctrines at all!
 
However, if anyone should continue to resist the teaching of this chapter, and insist that they cannot be fully convinced, and that they would return to their old way of getting their idiotic “OH!!!!!!” and “AHH!!!!!!” elicited, like a country bumpkin in the latter’s excitement upon entering a grand urban hospital for the first time in his life, likewise,  like an automaton,  in reaction to any single utterance of the word “art”, well, — he really has himself to blame. It is his honor at stake, correct?  No one can stop him from willfully becoming stupid, or a laughing stock for all… . So kindly ponder this prospect when you have time! Just don’t be a country bumpkin, be educated and equip yourself with some art literacy by all means, –and rightly enlightened! 
In B, 1, 2, and 3 are by Gauguin, 4, 7 are by Rousseau, 5 by Monet, 6, – that is, to say the least, one horror of a job at painting, !!– by Vallotton, 8 by Renoir, 9 by Vallotton, and 10, and I have forgotten its author, … — what a multitude of infamy, and for lack of a better designation,  let’s call them the terrorists, or destroyers of true art and all good taste!
Please note also the arrows I have introduced, – arrows pointing at all the dead limbs and cancerous cellular formations? Follow those vivid hints so one may understand why their makers are deemed mediocre, circumstantial, and without talent, much as a deranged orderly trying to impose as a real doctor in the hospital.
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