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Weltgeist of a painter

painters TUBES magazine
Weltgeist is a German word that describes a sort of world spirit, perhaps it can be best explained as a sort of awareness of your own consciousness. The artistic weltgeist experience is not uncommon, especially for a painter and many have recorded experiencing it at one time or another during their lifetime, i.e. Van Gogh, Rouault, Gauguin, Malevich, Chagall, Pollock and Rothko, just to mention a few. I guess another way of describing the ‘weltgeist’ of an artist is arriving at a state of mind of a momentary spiritual connection, whilst simultaneously creating art. What that connection point is, or what that spiritual link is for, remains a mystery. But it seems to depend on the personal history or the deeply held beliefs of the Artist themselves. Be that of a religious nature or of a wider secular view of what humans are here on earth for, where we come from and where are we going. Summed up in modern language as, “what’s life all about?” Answers to the basic questions that humanity have been seeking to discover from the very beginning of time. Gauguin was probably the first artist to make visual that question in his famous painting of 1897 (see header photograph).
A weltgeist or inner awareness, could also be explained as an Artistic epiphany.

The American art critic Donald Kuspit mentioned the word when discussing his book, “The End of Art” (2004) in an interview that was critical of contemporary Art at the time. Much of what he outlined in the interview reinforced many of my thoughts about the ‘Post Modern Art’ movement of the late 20th and into the early 21st century. Kuspit’s book insistence that the “End of Art” had arrived was not a new idea. The (UK) Art Review magazine published an essay written by Brian Ashbee in the January issue of 2000, which had exactly the same title. Although the front page did show the ‘End of Art with a question mark. At that time it the magazine was Edited by David Lee who is well known as the creator of the term ‘Art Bollocks’ In his splendid article, Brian Ashbee questioned the validity of the philosophy of Post Modernism and its application to the Art World. The Art Review’s front page illustrated the ‘End of Art’ by a rather horrific yet gripping [detail] of a painting by an artist who I came to know quite well over the years. In the interview Kuspit pointed out that he avoided using ‘spiritual content’ as a description for Art. “I hate that word (spiritual] and prefer the German word weltgeist, because it holds a greater width to explain the artistic process.”
Although Kandinsky was obviously unconcerned at using the term ‘spirituality’ in 1912 when he published his book “Concerning the Spiritual in Art.” Perhaps it did not hold the same narrow understanding that it probably does today, i.e. ‘spiritual = religious.’ – To describe an artwork as ‘spiritual’ these days is still a bit of a turn off for many in the contemporary art world. Perhaps that’s a reaction to the over use of the term that was used by the masters of 20th century Art, of which Kandinsky and Rothko are a very good examples.

By the late 20th century terminology for the ‘creative force’ had become cerebral, not spiritual. Art is innovative by nature and it has been common for one movement or terminologies to give way in favour of another. For example, the Dada movement, was a reaction to a perceived stagnant and corrupt culture. The Dadaist art ‘innovation’ was to present totally banal unscripted artistic absurdity to ridicule the establishment. Futurism, Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism and other such terms were put forward to categorise the various ‘weltgeist’ of artists throughout the 20th century. Indeed, manifestos of Art, at one time, seemed to be raining from the skies. Art works were categorised, labelled and bought by museums, which inevitably resulted in their acceptance and absorption into the annuals of Art History. Once accepted as: ‘of real Art Historical value’ – these movements lost their street cred and the uptake of the ideals by other artists evaporated as quickly as they had appeared. Perhaps a more dogmatic movement that has had a high uptake with the support from Art institutions in recent decades is post Modernism.

Professor Hilary Lawson discussing Post Modernism (iAi TV)

‘Post Modernism.’ Is an open-ended theory, one which is wide enough to allow anyone to make anything they so desire and call it Art. Be it banal, absurd, sexual, political, beautiful, naive or totally mundane, a non-art or art created by someone else. The term Post-Modernism covers all modes of Art with a large un-bigoted cultural umbrella, one that the Art Institutions and the culture media open at regular intervals. For the Art World Post Modernism seems to be the answer to eliminate, “that old Modern Art”. And the intellectual elites, who prophesied to understand it – far better than anyone else possibly could. 

Full article in issue #2 – available on line soon click below for information on date of release.

 info@painterstubes.com

Pleasure. Power. Passion. Panache.

painters TUBES magazine

issue#7

issue #7 of painters TUBES magazine featured four brilliant artists each with their own article..

Here is the extract from one of those articles… Patrick Blower – famed as a cartoonist for the Telegraph in London (UK) but he is also known as an accomplished painter..

“Politicians get drowned…by the wonderful seascapes of Patrick Blower”

As the Editor of Tubes I often make trips to visit artists studios, sometimes unannounced, and very occasionally I am lucky to view some fantastic paintings, ones that are totally unexpected. This was the case in my recent visit to London and the Make Space Studios in Lambeth. I’d gone there to catch up with Laurence Causse Parsley, another artist who was featured in issue #5 (Landscape..from Poussin to today). After we chatted for a while about her recent work, she gave me a guided tour of the large building which housed up to twenty artists or so.

Laurence escorted me round the labyrinth of corridors, gently tapping on various doors to introduce me to those artists that were behind them. It was one of those days wintery days in London, the kind that, if you need not venture out then it was better to stay in and watch You Tube videos. The skin-penetrating drizzle was driven by a biting wind, which was enough to put off most of the artists from journeying to Lambeth.

However one of the artists that made the journey daily, rain or shine, was Patrick Blower.

Laurence tapped on his door, and a voice shouted “come-in:”

As I walked into his studio his out-stretched hand was married with a broad smile, which immediately endeared me to him. I spoke a few a words to introduce myself, he reacted to my short personal  introduction with “You’re a Manc.” (sic: someone born in the City of Manchester, North West England, ‘Manc’ being a specific term to identify place of birth and specific culture). Patrick’s accent was soft, with a definite southern twang. His quick witted, almost caustic humour was however totally natural and inoffensive. It came as a surprise to me, to learn later, he was actually born in Brussels (1959) to a Belgian Mother and  a British Father. He says his “ head is in London, his heart is in Europe and his balls are somewhere over the North Sea.”…continued in the back issue – available soon,

Landscape – yesterday today

excellent article on Landscape Painting – Contemporary Artists who are painting landscapes today.

extract from article on landscape published in TUBES #5….

When it comes to visual art today, landscape is, and by a huge margin, the most popular subject with the general public, that is according to the many independent data analysis reports available on the web. Landscape paintings, it seems, are the most sought after by all social levels of people in modern society. They are the most exhibited in galleries world wide and the subject of them, nature, is one which almost every contemporary painter has, at some time or another, turned their attention to, but it wasn’t always that way.

Landscape on its own, as a autonomous work of Art, was once was frowned upon and was not taken seriously by those who controlled the output of Artists. It was viewed as a non-educated (non-intellectual) form of art. During the fifteenth century and some to extent the sixteenth century, the ‘mode’ of painting that was to be given a high status especially by the powerful art Academics, was historical referenced painting. Ancient Greek myths, Biblical stories or Viking legends etc. It was these subjects were seen as the only serious form of art that an artist should select as subject matter. Landscapes were only necessary to create the ‘stage’ or as ‘support’ for the human figures within them, figures that acted out their part and help to illustrate the story of the chosen subject. These background landscapes were painted in a specific way or with predetermined exacting tonal values that laid themselves back on the painting, always subservient to the human figure.

The reasoning behind this ‘rule’ was deliberate and ensured that only the ‘highly educated’ could pick out the subtle placement of symbolic object references, or have an in-depth knowledge of the story told within the work. Subtle references that could be discussed at length by a higher social class of citizen to demonstrate their intellectual prowess and greater learning. Thus meaning the artists who created these works needed a high level of educated instruction themselves. This ensured (usually) that artists came from mostly affluent families, or those artists who were seen as gifted and then were educated by the establishment, perhaps from an early age. (note: much the same attitude applied to ‘neo-conceptualism’ towards the early or latter part of the Twentieth Century)….continued back copy available soon..

Aegina Island Greece

Time Travel is never easy

Denis Taylor Greek Studio work

Aegina island in the Saronic Gulf. Greece

…way back in 1986, I decided to become a full time artist (painter). At least painting full time when it was possible. My self imposed rule #1 – was “to live for Art, and not live off Art.” – which sort of boxed me in, as I still needed to earn a living. This I did by working in a variety of jobs, writing articles and catalogues and selling the occasional canvas to interested parties, or taking on commissions, but only when someone asked me.
Somehow, years later, I found myself ensconced on island called Aegina. The island is close to Piraeus (19 kilometers) and thus Athens, where I could buy (piecemeal) oil paint, when I had the money, for Art supplies that is. It was here that I confronted the age old enemy of creatives – Ego – And it was here that I defeated it, albeit with the help of an invisible helping hand, which many people call their God. Unlike my home in Northern Europe, the Greek belief system was strong, and it would be unnatural for any creative not to absorb the atmosphere that surrounds them. The outcome was work which, up to then, I had never envisaged painting. This was linked to an incident, one that is too long to explain here, but let me just say, a miracle occurred that saved my life.

Oil painting by Denis Taylor 1993

“Stoned” painting created on Aegina island. ©Denis Taylor. now in a private collection in Sweden.

Time passed and my collection of paintings grew. Eventually I met my future wife, on another island, where I had accepted a commission to paint ‘Walls’ for a Greek friend who was setting up a ‘Rock and Roll cafe on Anti-Paros, a very small island in the Cyclandic’s. This chance meeting led to a Gallery exhibition in Stockholm (1995) and another one in the same year, before I knew where I was I had several shows, created a ‘radical’ group of mixed media Artists and curated, designed and participated in three major exhibitions, one of which was a commissioned [non paying] job for the Swedish Government Estonia Trust Fund and the International  Support Group, that one took over four years to complete [sic: Heart 2 Art- Stockholm January 2002]. And all the time, keeping to my #1 artists rule, I was earning a living doing other things [in the UK] remotely or directly.
Almost twenty years later, and now an artist in the Grey hair sector, I and my wife could scrape together enough time and money to spend a month on Aegina [July 2018]. And, as luck would have it, we were able to take my ‘Greek-Niece’ up on her kind offer to stay at her family home – which just happens to be above my old studio from all those decades ago. Hence the ‘time travel’ headline of this post.

Denis Taylor English Artist, Writer and Exhibition Curator

Studio 4 – Aegina island Greece

The studio had not been lived in or attended to for some years (my niece no longer lives there) And nature had began to take the place over. I resolved to spend the cooler mornings and late evenings bringing the place into ship shape. Mainly because I couldn’t bare to see it in that condition, and I wanted to ‘feel’ what I felt when I was a much younger artist, how I’d grown and developed in comparison, which was insightful. I recalled every single canvas I had painted there, in that place, the struggles, the ecstasy of a breakthrough and the disappointment of failure. I remembered the people, those characters who became more than close friends, now most of them, passed to the other side. At the back of the house I found my white plastic chair, and another for visitors, who would sit with me to discuss the painting I would have been currently working on.
I was time travelling, inside my mind, as I doggedly swept and moped, and swept and moped again and fought the weeds that had embedded themselves in ever crack and cranny. My human form bled salty water from every pore in its body, to cool itself down, but my mind was far to busy ‘travelling back in time’ to take any heed or warning to rest up and drink water.
At the end of all this, my voyage ended with a realisation of what I had actually achieved in Art per se, despite my rule #1, or because of it – And a truly personal sadness, that I could not share with them, that their high expectations, ones they were convinced that I could achieve in Art, had been.
So, ‘Time Travel’ is not easy – for many reasons – but I am sure it’s a trip everyone takes at some point in their life, the good, the bad, the tears the happiness. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Denis taylor Artist and Writer - Aegina island.

“One evening the sky talked of the past.”

posted and written by Denis Taylor. Artist and Writer.

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