October 17, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — MASTER BEN LAU @ 2:53 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

velazqez las meninas1.jpg

Figure 1: Las Meninas oil painting by Velazquez 1656- 1657

When the great painter Knox Martin first saw Velazquez’s Infanta at the Louvre, he was beside himself with joy, as indeed would anyone had he found himself in an ecstatic moment filled with all the wondrous magic that is timeless Beauty! According to the report, Knox was seen ” trembling and exclaiming loudly in expletives and groaning and gesticulating alarmingly” by his French companion… (refer to one of the articles inwww.knoxmartin.com)

Today we are looking at one of the best works by Velazquez,  Las Meninas. Viewing a replica of a masterpiece is not the same thing as experiencing the visual pleasure from the real thing. The enormous size of the painting alone can easily overwhelm any viewer, thereby casting upon him a spell of the sublime. However, granted that a page-size replica of the original work has most of its charm dissipated in the said reduction, it is still very much possible to feel the electrifying movements in the master’s original handiwork! You strip bare a painting to its essential “black and white”, even reduce it to a very small version of the original, the major electrifying part always remains faithfully intact. Why? Its Supreme Mathematical Relationship, SMR is at work here. Hence it follows that nothing can be more important in a work of art than the SMR.

Why do our Academia still champion issues as their lingering hope from the dawn of Surrealism to the heydays of Post-modernism then?– Endless discourses, thousands of publications, hundreds of seminars, and of course innumerable resources and public fundings and generous donations, – all squandered in the glorious name of art or culture!–And the happiest clowns in the circus?–the biggest show since the Barnum?–much bigger, – from local Star Tribune Mary A, MCAD Diane M; U of M  J. B. to Columbia U’s  Arthur D, with their countless illegitimate sons and daughters of questionable paternity, – much ado about nothing!

The answer, my friend, is very simple!Those who impose on the world as learned scholars are no more clear eyed than the blind Arabs in a tribe hopelessly lost in a sandstorm, –being inert to all things beautiful, noble or poetic!– For that reason, they must with the utmost urgency, hang onto a work’s narratives or meanings or else they can only hang themselves, as they have nothing else in their tradecraft to fool a even blinder world! They have to find something to hook onto, right?
I have often stressed that the “black and white” in the composition produces the  electrifying magic in soliciting Knox’s sublime reaction to the beauty of Las Meninas. The compositional “black and white” is the predominant factor in assessing the merits of a painting! Its “Black and white” tells us about the Supreme Mathematical Relationships from which is born the essential visual poetry in Las Meninas.

What constitutes “charm” in a painting beside the universal appeal derived from its supreme mathematical relationships in the composition?
When looking at Art, the public, by their viewing habit, generally falls into two categories: They either glance at the art casually, superficially, or they seem to detect things beyond the intended. The viewers in the first instant often succumb to the external, circumstantial charm in the Art, hence missing the big picture that is fundamental to its beauty; whereas the viewers in the second category tend to intellectualize everything presented to them, thereby inventing in their heads the fabrication of their arbitrary whims. Only the Alpha Seers, who can see Art as it is, truly sense its beauty with undiluted pleasureThat was exactly what had caused the crisp awakening in the core of Knox Martin upon his viewing of Velazquez’ Infanta or Las Meninas. That is the only explanation for his public outcry of blissful self-abandon!

“You are not Knox, well, how in the world do you know the way he felt at the moment? and, namely, what had precisely caused his outcry?” Comes the challenge, – to which I plan to reply with precision, ” because I have been in a similar situation, my friend!” We feel satisfied when thirst is quenched or an itch scratched.  That particular kinship for yearning also constitutes a common core which we call humanity! One of the many things that the public look for, i.e. those who tend to intellectualize Art, are the meanings in the painting. When I was at MCAD looking at students’ works, I saw piles upon heavy piles of their work homogeneously sharing a single, wrong-headed focus:the misguided notion that the act of art-making serves the purpose of meanings in the human experience. Out of that wrong headed notion their work all seem to follow the program that art is supposedly for the conveyance of meanings. WRONG! When you look at contemporary art, one is struck by the horror that NOT a single inch of its postmodern domains that fails to employ meaning as the very reason for art’s existence. The true reason for greatness in a masterpiece like Las Meninas is alway bypassed or dismissed as the result of a mass exodus of imagination or the constant chattering of a querulous mind! Thus it is easy to see how seriously astray our postmodern artists and their scholarly allies have been led.

The Alpha Seer is one who awakes to Beauty. Alpha Seers are rare in any period of time.That has been pointed out. His seeing can be as simple as the visual enjoyment of a gemstone. He does not need a legitimate reason to enjoy visual beauty. Yet beauty is complex enough for most people and the bliss of that seeing has been forbidden to many. Many are hopelessly denied access to beauty, since there is no established path to beauty! For that reason, enlightenment must not be taken for granted. Enlightenment does not sit around waiting for you enticingly. One needs to be wise, full humor, humble in attitude and serious in intention. One needs to have a logical mind similar to a scientist’s, and much more. The sentimental dog will never get the bone! One needs to have the feelers out for a beauty promised only in a universe structured in Mathematics. In short, one needs to be well prepared, heart and mind, and spiritually. Verily the breeze will grace whosoever that keeps his window open… .
Beauty is timeless but the musings of our postmodern scholars dwell heavily on the movements of time, which is the offspring of the thought process. Existential issues such as social and gender equity, interpretation of dreams, instability of meanings and generally, issues that call for worthless research in the human psyche. Adulation of the Ego has become the central themes and the purpose for art. To be exact, Ego has become the only subject matter of the postmodern philosophy!

Unfortunately,  the universe is without an ego–so an enlightenment upon the beautiful cannot attach to the human ego in any size or shape. Postmodern art is of the mind and of time. They are products of memories. But memories are dead! Alpha Art by contrast, is a sacredness from Supreme Mathematical Relationship, which is sublime and timeless.
It is true that there is a strong hint of narratives, or even one of  fantastic drama, loaded with biographical / historic data in Las Meninas, but Velazquez might have deliberately created that excuse in order to enlarge the market appeal of his art as a commodity of desire. There really is no need to over-emphasize those external, circumstantial factors as long as the dynamics governing the S M R are in place.

One of art historians’ favorite stories about this painting is that Velazquez painted his motif from the reflection of a great mirror situated in front of his subjects and himself. Now it has become my major complaint about the academics whenever this piece of Las Meninas feature is brought up. They have told it like the oldest story in the bible, deeply engaged in the form and matter of a fart!

Of course it stinks: can’t you smell it, professors?

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