My Kolorful Kinesthetic Version of the Last Supper.
Looking toward the Old Masters has always been a way to infuse one’s work with new energy and vitality. There are wheels that do not need to be reinvented, and the vehicle of creativity rolls on smoothly by the propulsion of past contributions, past paintings that shed light on the genius of today. If for no other reason, Tintoretto’s Last Supper I mentioned a couple weeks ago struck my heart as a dynamic depiction of a scene very dear to me. And his kinesthetic composition was capturing the real drama of the moment—far more than the more famous Last Supper of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Y’all know I love Kandinsky. And that artist’s kinesthetic works literally explode onto the scene and create a kind of well spring in the heart. When I saw Tintoretto’s Last Supper I felt the same thing. Ka’POW!
So I decided to start a new series of water colors with a similar structure of Tintoretto’s Last Supper. These are Markus Ray’s versions, a lá my love for Kandinsky. Here is the first one:
You could say the halo looks more like an egg in this first one. But so what? It is a central orb of brightness. And there are vectors of all kinds of other characters swirling around, just like in the Tintoretto.
Why does one paint?
I think I told you my favorite line from Barnett Newman: “An artist paints so he will have something to look at.” I like to simply look at stuff. Especially paintings. And when there are none around, I make ’em up.
The other reason I paint has something to do with the dynamics of my day. I have a lot of computer work to do, usually. And it helps if I have a break, in which I can shift gears and focus on something totally different than cerebral thought processes on a keyboard. This is the beauty of small watercolors/drawings: I can move over to the other side of the table and disengage my left brain and delve into the creative reservoir of right brain bliss. Laying down a stroke of color on a pristine pad of Arches Watercolor Paper is an absolute ecstasy.
Why do “free copies” interest me?
When an artist looks at an Old Master painting, and then comes up with his own version or “painting” that takes creative liberties to change things around in his own style, that is called a “free copy.” We recognize that the lessons of art come from art itself, and the painters who came before us provide the shoulders upon which we stand to look over the walls of convention. Through them we leap into the new Elysian Fields of our here and now. Their masterworks form the past, and provide a catalyst for inspiration for something totally new—a free expression of a remarkably unique idea—in the present art of free association.
I am interested in these “free copies” because the elements of genius are already in them. I am inspired, like I am inspired by a thunder storm, or a lime green leaf of spring foliage, or by the color of purple.
The geometry of composition in the Old Master paintings is very specific, often hidden, and prevailing in the general feeling we have about the order of the work. I have trained myself to pick this out, and focus on this structure. The one of Tintoretto’s Last Supper is something like this:
Tintoretto always uses strong diagonal perspective in his work, and this one is no different. The front edge of the table leads us through the whole composition, and the orb of light around the head of the Christ are the central elements that make this work a success. So those are my main elements in this series of “Small Paintings.”
When all is said and done—
—there is a food to be eaten in looking at paintings. To me, paintings are all the “Last Supper” of our meeting with the Truth—with the visual Muse of Beauty. Paintings are palpable, psycho-spiritual-sexual-physical encounters with an intensity of touch, sight, color and feeling that is brought about in the thing itself. Making a painting is even more of this palpable encounter. Paintings are ways of touching in with reality, with Creation, and participating in the dance, the music, the construction and color of Life.
When all is said and done, painting keeps me alive, keeps me going, keeps me hopeful that the human race will rise up as a whole and treat itself well in the end. We will give ourselves the Last Supper of our mutual care for one another, and make sure our wounds are bound up, our hungry are fed, our naked are clothed, and our homeless are sheltered. Then we can take a breath, and relax into just BEING amongst the finer things of Life. The Last Supper is the only supper, the one that goes on forever into the realization of our Divine Nature of Mutual Nourishment.
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