Monday 4 July 2011

Art and the Archetype

With my Internet running at 128 kbits, and unreliably at that, it is
folly to attempt a blog entry, but then that's me all over. :-)

This may sound a very silly fear indeed, if not grandiloquently
pompous, but I am in a state of continual concern that I confuse art
with the archetypal. And yes, it is a real fear, and yes it does
occupy my thoughts.

Despite the philosophising, we all really know what art is: something
that moves us through its beauty in a very personal communing with the
work. Preconditions for this communing are an openness for new
experience, unprejudiced but keen observation, and some knowledge of
rules that can be made and rules that can be broken - in short the
cultural context.

However, once we have learned to pattern match a style (Art Deco), an
artist (Van Gogh), or a painting (the Mona Lisa), do we enjoy what is
quintessential or do we actually engage in sufficient observation to
judge the art?

The quintessential is comforting; art is discomforting. My castle is
damningly quintessential,  facilely archetypal, or as a child would
put it, a really "castley-castle". It is a cube with turrets on the
four corners. Was its purchase a quick fix, tick box in life (the
quintessential) or a response to its art. There is no doubt that it
was an investment in beauty and beauty alone, but was it commoditised,
as with an artist with a name, or suitably and artfully reckless? I
very much fear it was the  former. Interestingly, a number of ruined
buildings I tried to buy were by the  same architect (William Burn)
but I just did not know it at the time. I am certainly consistent, but
this is the indistinguishable hallmark not just of good taste but of
the archetypal.

Castles are ripe for archetyping, and I very much enjoy this. I attach
two such images from the Polanski film "The Ninth Gate." This film is
severely under-rated, and somehow I felt vindicated in my admiration
when he later came out with "The Pianist" which is both genius and the
definitive holocaust film. This is possibly because it stays outside
the concentration camp door - avoiding the emotionally undepictable
rather than the technically so.

Anyhow, the film features a recurring castle image throughout ( the
attached photo) and mediaeval woodcuts which provide the clues for a
bibliophilic puzzle: one example is the attached illustration. Did I
like the film because of its art, because of its castles, because of
its archetyping (I am a bit of a bibliophile) or because of its
archetyped castles? :-) Oddly, in this instance I almost certainly
liked the art, but then I am a cineast,  but boy do I like those
castles! :-)

I am now looking at "classic period" light fitting designs for the
castle's interior. This is fraught with danger, as the period enforces
boundaries now that were not present then in the period. Should one
like a light in order to go for it, or should it simply be in keeping
with the period, or should it simply suit its location? I am trying to
go for all three - but a little blurring in the period seems to be
necessary. Victorian lighting is not hugely inspired, as the basic
purpose was to make the best of low intensity light sources: oil, gas,
candles. Electricity frees light fittings from this straight-jacket,
and Art Deco starts to revel in colour and design - and I am a bit of
a reveller. :-)

So for "classic" read archetypal. Not all Victorian lighting looks
Victorian,  so one favours a look that is clearly Victorian, to prove
to others/oneself that one has got it right. :-)

Sadly, I am no further forward in my conundrum, even after its first
expression in prose. Am I art or archetype? You decide!

recurring castle image from film "The Ninth Gate"

woodcut castle image from film "The Ninth Gate" 

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