abstract art, a systems view

God and the art of seeing

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My brother Robert being a Baptist minister, I ought not to be too surprised to find on his bookshelf  God and the Art of Seeing by Richard Kidd and Graham Sparkes.

It caught my eye first of all because it sounds so much like another book I have enjoyed a lot: The Art of Seeing, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson. Well, it is nothing like that book! Kidd and Sparkes’ book is subtitled Visual Resources for a Journey of Faith. As you can imagine, it isn’t really an art book. And, as I am reading it, that’s one of the things I am enjoying: it is about the uses that people (can) make of art. And I do think there are also some very productive insights about the art.

There’s a chapter each on Edvard Munch, Marc Chagall, Stanley Spencer, Georgia O’Keefe, Jacob Lawrence and Vincent van Gogh.

In the chapter on Edvard Munch, discussing the painting The Sick Child, 1885-1886, the authors suggests that the many layers of over-painting contained in the twenty revisions, some layers invisible to the naked eye and conscious mind, expresses the passing of time as the dimension in which suffering takes place. Here form and content unite to express the same theme of suffering. I suggest that it could also be the case that whenever an abstract painting ‘records’ time through over-painted layers then suffering, is present metaphorically, suffering that is, in the sense of ‘struggle’.

Written by Andy Parkinson

September 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

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