Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bridget Riley interview with Michael Craig-Martin

Painting is, I think, inevitably an archaic activity and one that depends on spiritual values. One of the big crises in painting--at least a century or two, maybe even three centuries old--was precipitated by the dropping away fo the support of a known spiritual context in which a creative impulse such as painting could find a place. This cannot be replaced by private worlds and reveries. As a painter today you have to work without that essential platform. But if one does not deceive oneself and accepts this lack of certainty, other things come into play--they may be the reverse of what one would expect. Rather like colour, whose instability can become another form of certainty. So the absence of something, especially something necessary but which cannot be easily identified or discovered, has sometimes led to a very exacting quest in modern art. At the end of his life, Monet painted his largest, grandest and in many ways greatest paintings about virtually nothing; about looking into a huge expanse of water set with a few lilies in which unexpected colours appear in the depths, or elusively in reflections. It is a most mysterious, extraordinary subject in which he invests all his experience and power. In the end there seems to be hardly any subject-matter left--only content.

1 comment:

Ronald said...

Interesting quotation. I have always liked Kandinsky's views of art as a spiritual endeavor. Even though we no longer have a common spiritual context – say in the West – we have our own individual spiritual contexts. I think that these individual contexts have a common ground in Jung’s Universal Unconscious. This allows us to see the truth in the paintings of others even without the same ideology. Hell, even in the Renaissance the Protestants and Catholics did not have a common context, yet they each understood the art of the other. Often we look for and find meaning within our own spiritual context that was absent from the artist’s intent.