Friday, July 18, 2014

Reading between the lines

Poetry by nature is an abstraction.  The best poems-and paintings-leave room for the reader to fill in the gaps and find meaning in the spaces between what is said and what is read or viewed.

From a reading of Mark Rothko,

A painting lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer.  It dies by the same token. 

Rothko also said that writing and painting involve different kinds of knowing.  I think he'd be of the opinion that I was sentimentalizing my paintings by allowing viewers into the words of inspiration.  That, in fact, the painting should stand on its own and it was nobody's business what personal aspect I employed, but only that the painting spoke to the essentially human in us.

My intent with sharing the poem with the painting has always been to elevate the experience of both--but maybe I'm making too many connections for the viewer.  Just as some artists claim that no title is an important element to force the viewer to form their own response to a work, I find giving this information is a channel to direct the response and give insight into what the hell I was thinking about.  Sometimes parameters allow a freer experience...

"Your life, with its immensity and fear, bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star."
Evening by Rainer Rilke, here translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Slowly evening takes on the garments
held for it by a line of ancient trees.
You look, and the world recedes from you.
Part of it moves heavenward, the rest falls away.

And you are left, belonging to neither fully,
not quite so dark as the silent house,
not quite so sure of eternity
as that shining now in the night sky, a point of light.

You are left, for reasons you can't explain,
with a life that is anxious and huge,
so that, at times confined, at times expanding,
it becomes in you now stone, now star.

Book of Images