Painting is…..

December 16, 2008


Okri bowl

This piece was inspired by a section from Ben Okri’s  ‘Arcadia’.  Somewhere near the end is this wonderful lyrical ode to painting. It just goes on and on, I’ll excerpt some of it here , hoping that by leaving out a lot I don’t do violence to it.

Painting is the meaning of humanity in a visible moment… It is the frozen music of time’s justice and injustice…It is the secret history of light, the psychodrama of colour, the moment in a mind, the moment in a song.
Painting is the magic riddle of mortality. It is the longing for the eternal, the happiness of the transient, the enigma of creation, the home of the heart, the fountain where loss is soothed. It is the eternal future, for painting is never in the past tense, only in the ever flowing present tense, an eternal now, a never-ending summer, a life always living, a moment never ceasing.
Painting is water, air, fire, earth, dream, but it is never death. Painting is life,life smiling at death with light as its secret.
…Painting is secret structures, harmonies, balance, chaos, force-fields, philosophy, patience, rhythm, wit, sadness, delight, tragedy… When paintings die, they go back to God’s mind.

Painting is the nightmare of the devil. Codes in colours and shapes. It is the yearning of all things to live and persist in memory. Painting is the only mortal space where angels dwell in stillness…Painting is human love transcending human forgetfulness. It is mortality staring at itself in the evanescent mirror of immortality. It is spaces dancing, dimensions interacting, realms interpenetrating, time zones colliding, eliding, harmonising. …Painting is the shaman’s mirror, the warrior’s truest shield, the healer’s armour against fate and tragedy. The celebration of light.

Painting is the weapon the wise use against vicissitude. It will one day heal profound sickness of body, mind, and spirit. It is the technology of the wise primitive, the science and medicine of the forgotten ancients.