November 21, 2018

Filed under: — MASTER BEN LAU @ 4:20 am

(HOW THE ART STUDENT SHOULD LOOK AT ART)

The composition of a painting is the orchestration of profound calligraphic elements with an aim to produce FORMAL metaphors with harmonious perfection.

Asking an art student to focus on the black and white, Master Ben Lau encourages him/her to examine the core of past masterpiece compositions in their calligraphic vitality, allowing the poetry in the forms to come through, thereby nourishing his/her spirit as a result.

The first question to be asked is: “Who may be called an art student?”

With the exception of the naturally born geniuses, – those who have the potential to scale the height of artistic Heaven, and attain self-realization in the process, – being guided by their inner light, – EVERYONE ELSE in the world may be called “art student.” The genius, or Alpha Seer, can then be defined as one who has the potential to attain self- realization, one who can be a light unto himself by virtual of that natural endowment. The artistic genius is the “one-eyed king” in a sea of blindness, –he who has stolen the fire for mankind from the gods, so to speak!

The next logical question is, “Who are such geniuses in the past 500 years of Painting?”

Please allow me to lay down that groundwork as follows:

The artistic geniuses in the past 500 years of Painting is an extremely small group of venerable souls, considering the number of human births in that interval of time. They can be loosely listed as follows:

Beside all the ancient Egyptian masters, the ancient African masters, the ancient Greek masters, the ancient Oriental or Islamic masters, as well as masters from civilizations such as Incas, Aztec, the Zhou Dynasty, etc., the past 500 years boast only the following geniuses: Van Eyck, Titian, Giotto, Bosch, Tintoretto, Francesca, Veronese, Botticelli, Sotatsu, Velazquez, Hals, Rubens, Rembrandt, Watteau, El Greco, Goya, Ingres, Degas, Cezanne, Hokusai, Matisse, Picasso, Miro, Van Gogh, Juan Gris, de Kooning, Gorky, and Knox Martin.

It is at best only a limited and partial list, highly constraint in its coverage, but any serious art student should study from this list in order to find out what ART is. There are other masters too, from the 4 corners of the world, most of them nameless, some even have their art lost or destroyed in wars or famines, –but the ABOVE list will suffice.

It is only proper that everyone else not listed above should be called an art student! In other words, if you have yearned for beauty, if you have made a serious attempt to search for it, and if that attempt has been a sincere one, – even though the search is ongoing and somewhat futile, you may still honestly admit to yourself that Art has never been an easy nut to crack! Welcome to the club: you ARE an art student! Only in extremely rare cases would a student become a disciple. A disciple must be a genius himself in order to be so called. For example, Cezanne and Knox Martin are self-taught disciples before they have come of age. Only a disciple can mature into a master. The rest of the art students lack the inner light to mature into a master. THE HUMAN RACE IS A BLIND RACE in that respect. When it comes to seeing the subtle and the non- obvious, also otherwise known as TRUTH, BEAUTY, GOD, –being called by a thousand other names but it nevertheless remains in the unknown. THE ULTIMATE REALITY REMAINS UNKNOWN.

Even so, an art student is a term of honor and endearment, – a sacred term! It means the individual is now aware and has honestly worked towards his/her own ENLIGHTENMENT. That means you, as individual, is fully responsible for your short sojourn in the floating world you call life, – that you have been able to value this bridge of Humanity, – whereby one may, through enlightenment, make the QUANTUM LEAP to the BEYOND, –not unlike an electron making a leap to the next energy level!

There is no nobler pursuit in life than that of enlightenment! Although in a somewhat different way, the Gautama Buddha had done that, and successfully made the leap to the divine, – so enlightenment is not a fairy tale or anything that is without precedent or basis!
Yes, the human spirit can be enlightened, and it should be !
In my painterly activities, I have intended to demonstrate a certain CREATIVE IMPULSE in painting, in contrast to mere inventiveness of ideas. Ideas originated from mental activities and memories are extremely unreliable! (One may envision the mind as some sort of computer! If you go into the right kind of meditation, one taught by J. Krishnamurti, for example, you may see it clearly, i.e., the human mind is no more than just a computer!) By observing the way the mind works, – how it feeds on memories and is fueled and conditioned by them in all of its movements, nothing ever originated from the mind can be called new or original. The resulting production can be no more than mechanical at best! That being the case, one can then proceed to see the vast difference between CREATION, which has life, – and invention, which is awkward, and basically mechanical! The artistic genius is a NATURAL, who produces true art; whereas the everyman artist works through the mental computer- to produce illustrations. In other words, THE EVERYMAN CANNOT PRODUCE TRUE ART NO MATTER HOW HARD HE/SHE TRIES.

Even though the human mind may rank first among the primates, it is still a primate’s mind ! One may call it superior, –-but that’s about it! It is not to say that the artistic genius does not share the same monkey’s mind too, however, there is something mysterious that would go into the act of creation, which eventually transforms and transcends whatever form molded in his hand. What that is remains a mystery, – just call it a natural phenomenon!

Take the feat of flight for example: With a single leap, a bird is in mid-air. She does not require a runway for flying and her entire operation or attitude is charming to the extreme! How awkward is the flight of a mind-conceived flying machine, say a plane, – by comparison?
Similarly, the genius will take a leap, and he is in mid-air! That is the incredible power of Mother Nature! It is inexplicable and mysterious, like life itself, – nevertheless it is the reality!
Picasso just takes a leap and he is in mid-air. Why? he is born that way. Should we say more?

Hence the difference between illustration and painting is like night and day –separating that which has LIFE (Painting) from that which is mechanical, and futile (illustration)!

A true Painting must be teeming with LIFE, in contrast to illustration, – which is anything but ART!

No matter how deep your emotional attachment to your preferences, there is truly nothing in an illustration other than platitude and entropy! Not unlike flying, –which is not a human trait, the everyman has to rely on his/her mind to “do art.” Such “art” is inevitably conceptual, descriptive, and imitative! Look at a Norman Rockwell, –then turn your gaze upon a Titian masterpiece in the next instance. You can tell us the difference ! I have nothing against Rockwell, he is an excellent illustrator and he is American, too, -–but Titian obviously has helped us to be in touch with greatness! Or one may read several chapters of Harry Potter (illustration for children) Vs. some Shakespearean verses (Art for the understanding adult!). Harry Potter may be very interesting, but the same result unfortunately prevails. Shakespeare is true literature, whereas your Harry Potter can be no more than illustrative, descriptive or narrative ! Finally, listen to the Beatles, then tune to Mozart or Beethoven in the next instance. The difference between great art and illustration is so great, –not even a fool can miss it! In all three instances, your soul is nourished by great art, whereas the more worldly stuffs can do little in that regard. They may entertain your curiosity or satisfy your emotion, but that is as far as they can take you!

It would be unacceptable if you insist that difference cannot be felt! It would be even more so if you have set out to deny the difference, like the academia, – because you have your own preference of your Pop music, your Harry Potter, your Andy Warhol or what not!

It is unacceptable because you have denied enlightenment for the human spirit, to be in touch with greatness through the vehicle of true art. It is unacceptable because you have refused to enter the stream, which will eventually take you to the ocean! So it is pertinent for you therefore, as art student, to detect that irreconcilable difference by means of careful comparison from the start.

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Comparing Ben Lau’s work with those of the others on this website will clarify this 21st Century Postmodern mess at hand;– namely, that Beauty cannot be expressed through ideas (or concepts)! The reason is quite simple: the other “artists” here are, in fact, art students who have not attained yet! Ben Lau, by contrast, is a genius whom the great master Knox Martin (www.knoxmartin.com) has praised! That can be readily verified through careful study of Ben’s compositions. It may be further confirmed by the Knox Martin comment about Ben Lau on the following http://benlauart.com, or Knox Martin’s praise for the Alpha Seer in an essay on http://thealphaseer.com.

As an art student, you have the obligation to find out about all this. You are obliged as human striving for enlightenment!

The first rule of enlightenment: nothing should be embraced as truth through belief and hearsay. You have an obligation to find out for yourself! One must be skeptical at first, then one must take up the challenge through investigation, with an aim to achieve conviction. CONVICTION, – not belief, – is a divine gift in life, as a shaft of inner light has now been gained to guide you in your actions. Enlightenment has a dawning effect on the human spirit, but one must make a good effort towards that.

Conceptual experiments inevitably leads to a complete breakdown in Art.The history of Pop art, Conceptualism and Postmodernism has given us sufficient proof for that. It is the story of spiritual bankruptcy! Who except a stupid and unenlightened crowd would still insist on visiting the Walker Art Centers of the world, the Gugganheims of the world, the Whitneys of the world, – or the MOMAs of the world, where conceptual bombardments of extremely boring, mundane and fake stuffs are put on public display, – packaged and sold as Art en mass to a crowd heavy with herd instincts! “The blind leading the blind” is the name of the game in this Age! If the Middle Ages can be called “the Dark”, then the Postmodern Age is the Blind!

Beauty must express itself through the creator’s sublime nature, more commonly known as “artistic genius”, where supreme artistic intuition born of Nature is in reign! Only Nature can instruct the artistic genius. Little wonder why Matisse says, “Art cannot be taught!” On the other hand, the everymen, also known as the Pop artists, or Conceptualists, do not have the tinner light to produce art. Who are those people in the last 500 years of painting? Here is a list again:

Caravaggio, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Rauschenberg, Edvard Munch, Gustav Klimt, Marchel Duchamp, Kahlo, Bacon, Lichtenstein, Albers, Hofmann, Newman, Beckmann, Nolde, Pollock, Matta, Still, Rivera, Ernst, Tanguy, Dali, Kokoschka, Magritte, Hopper, O’Keeffe, Leger, Klee, Braque, Kirchner, Modigliani, Chirico, Marc, Schiele, Malevich, Derain, Kandinsky, Klimt, Gauguin, Monet, Cassatt, Sargent, Pissarro, Sisley, Whistler, Homer, Courbet, Delacroix, Hiroshige, Gericault, Turner, Constable, Gainsborough, Boucher, Rothko, Stella, Hockney, Johns, Hirst, Freud, Hawkins, Motherwell, Dine, etc., etc. and etc.

These folks do not have the talent to produce art for the following reasons: 1. they do not have the sublime intuition born of Nature for art; and 2. with that important intuition missing, they behave like the blind, being incapable of seeing or understanding Art. 3. In addition, they are deluded enough to crown themselves as artist, –an imposition from which they will not rise again.

Some of the folks above may be a hero to many, some may even be quite popular owing to their nationality or gender ( Munch, O’Keef); some may have become famous for their inventiveness of things (Pollock, )– nevertheless, we should know full well that, without artistic genius, they cannot call themselves true artists and mean it, – no matter who they were, or what they had done.

Their misery is further compounded since they have fallen into the trap of imposing on the true artists through their propagation of untruths and ignorance, – their spirit beyond redemption. How so? For folks who have lived in constant denial of their own impotence in art, the devastation of ignorance and a sense derived from an inferiority complex will eventually have their tolls on them, leaving an indelible stigma in this life as well as bad Karma beyond it. The more immediate ailments to adversely affect them is a morbid fear for the Truth. Their failure in enlightenment has proven to be their downfall! They had been born with the mind and body of a man, but had unfortunately squandered that humanity, –the BRIDGE to the BEYOND! That opportunity has been wasted by constantly living in untruths. Even a swine can be deemed luckier than an impostor in that regard! They are no longer simple art students worthy of a pure heart. They had been involved in a lifetime of dishonest exploitation for Art and Beauty! Jesus said, ” What good is it to have the whole world in your possession if you have lost your soul?” Think about it, friends: What good is it indeed, of losing your soul, in exchange for fame and influence in this short life?

That is why the great American master Knox Martin has specifically pronounced this, “To become an artist, one must first UNDERSTAND what ART is!” That may sound simplistic to the casual ears, but it is an important FIRST consideration for any art student who is desirous of enlightenment!

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In Ben Lau’s works there is a resolution towards life in abhorrence of the inanimate. That goes hand in hand with a tendency towards the metaphorical, to eschew the photographic, the descriptive, the imitative, OR the narrative that is so often associated with meaning or sentiment! Meaning is irrelevant to Art, so is sentiment!

Many still believe that, simply because they can pick up a stick of color and make lines and images with it, they can call themselves artists. Wait, not so quick, folks! In addition to being imprudent, it may also be a dishonest way of dealing with life! Know what art is before you proceed!

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The success of a creative effort is determined by whether a piece of work can form a lasting communion with the viewer. It is crucial that the work can “speak” to the viewers. That is a task hard enough to achieve even for the artistic genius! A masterful composition is TIMELESS! The Unknown that is artistic beauty is so vast, –way beyond anything conceivable or perceivable by the unenlightened human mind!

For a successful dialog to take place between master and student, vertical intelligence is required of the latter. Vertical intelligence, which has height and depth, is transformative. So the master/student relationship is remarkable and is something that any art student should cultivate at all times.

Total awareness is required of the art student, whose transformation through looking attentively at masterpieces fulfills his/her yearning for sublime harmony. So one should not simply go to the master and say, ” Hey, I am here, – now enlighten me!” Enlightenment is not that cheap, it is not a passive thing– we all know that! One must assume a gracious effort, even a great one, – no matter the cost!

After examining the composition on the linear and the two-dimensional levels, the student will find himself in touch with the formal quality in the art. For those with good ears, every note of Mozart’s music is found to be precious. Likewise, if the art student has good enough seeing, every single stroke in a master’s composition will now become a treasure and a joy to look at! The accomplishment of a masterful composition, therefore, has become both the goal and subject matter for doing art.


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