THE POWER OF COLOR
Painters are to the window of the pictorial world as God is to the great Void of the Cosmos. They wield color like God spins worlds and galaxies into play. There is a notion of unlimited possibilities to be conjured upon the canvas just as there are massive constellations about to be hurled into the endless repertoire of Divine Creation. Every painting is a universe, and every stroke of the brush a real-time unfolding of the Power of Creation.
What will come forth to converge in the mind the painter with the Mind of God in a co-creation that extends far beyond any separate act that either could accomplish on their own? One cannot deny the awesome beauty of the Divine Mother. The Grand Canyon is truly Grand. And the Glacial Ice-Blue of God’s frozen fields mesmerizes us into a kind of prayer-like wonder of the “power of color.”
The Color of Creation is woven into the painter’s palette of pigments. It is not enough that he sees nature and the incredible combinations and occurrences of spectral brilliance just about wherever he looks, but he is compelled to grind down these colors into a plethora of pigments he can then use to create his own worlds.
Waldemar Januszczak is one of the best Art Historians I have come across in recent years, along with the journalist John Berger. Both hailed out of England. In his “Renaissance Unchained,” this is Waldemar pondering the pigments of a dynamic marketplace of Venice in the 15th century that spawned the likes of Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese.
The newly burgeoning wealth and trade of 15th century Venice was likened to a New York City, a marketplace of the world that fueled the juggernaut of the Renaissance’s southern hub of cultural pomp and circumstance. Everywhere the painter’s hand was touching the venues and vistas of all the major churches and public buildings.
THE POWER PAINTERS
One whose Hands matched the Hands of God was Jacopo Tintoretto. The son of a fabric dyer, he had pigments in his blood. But in addition to that insatiable appetite for paint and color, he was one of the best pictorial composers the world has ever seen. His genius was unsurpassed. When put in the hands of Tintoretto, the paint had a Power beyond our wildest imagination to make known the unknown, to make seen the unseen, and to make illustrious the unimaginable.
He painted Christ in that moment of all moments. The heavenly realms descend upon the Savior of the world, through the dove of the Covenant, made manifest by the anointing action of John the Baptist. And such a humble anointing it was. Water over the head of the Christ by one who only seemed to take on a lesser role. Jesus defers to John. He says “no” to placing Himself above him. How could he? Behold the man in all his regal musculature and color. Brilliant in His pose, a kind of point and counterpoint of the necessary ingredients, the stage is set for the miraculous. Tintoretto grips us. We are transfixed. We are lifted up into a brilliant downpouring of grace from the beginnings of a Divine Mission the likes of which Mankind had hardly known.
The painter has Power. And this one, Tintoretto, has the humility likened to Christ himself. From where does such vision come? What truth descends not only upon the scene but into the heart and mind of the creator who melds his will with God’s? The painter saints of the middle Renaissance came in waves upon waves. It was a time when a painter the likes of Tintoretto had a Power to shape the destiny of worlds. And he did.
In the Venetian pantheon of Power painters, Tintoretto’s main rival, and 20 years his senior, was Titian. The above lipstick scarlet raiment covers no one less than Mary, the Mother of Jesus on her day of Ascension into Heaven. Mind you, there was no photography of the day, so the line between reality and myth was left in the hands of the Master Painters. They could weave illusions into truth. They could create facts out of pictorial figures that not only seemed to solidify the beliefs of a religious canon but also posited a palpable reality in paint and convincing form of an otherwise legendary event. Have you ever seen that luscious of a red? Are you not transfixed into staring at its beauty?