“I am the result of a bad joke: “Turner, Rothko, and Magritte walk into a bar…”
In our lives, we encounter moments of absolute isolation and deep silence. In those moments, if we are equipped with a modicum of introspection, we are confronted with the Cosmos and, more importantly, our utter insignificance in the face of it. Questions of ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what does it all mean?’ become nonsense: the terrifying magnitude and endless power of the Cosmos simply overwhelm and devour.
It is a confrontation with something bigger than death: it is the end of meaning. It erases all our actions, all our dreams, and noble and base passions. All that remains in the end is Goya’s Saturn endlessly devouring until he, himself, is devoured until all traces are annihilated.
It is the Gothic and Romantic Sublime but without the subsequent elevation. It is terror and madness without respite. And it is no wonder we do anything and everything to pretend it is not there.
We consume. We fill our lives with noise and light and things. Facebook and YouTube are only the latest manifestation of the primordial urge to keep away the endless dark. We consume. We fill our homes and live with the latest, the brightest, and the most modern. We consume noise and images. We consume drugs and religion and patriotism alike, anything to give our lives a semblance of order, meaning and purpose. Maybe then, we can transcend the yawning void.
It is, therefore, with no little irony that our society, built as it is to consume and consume (more and more to somehow keep the Cosmos at bay), has engendered its own end, and the end of all to which we ascribe meaning.
The will to alter our mad race does not exist. Or, rather, it exists, but only by those who have confronted the Devouring Cosmos and have chosen to fight at Ragnarok, like the Norse of Old, not because they will win, but because dying fighting, as Dylan Thomas reminds us, is the only way. Unfortunately, those are few and far between, and not nearly enough to change our need to distract and consume.
The result is a global environmental catastrophe. It is here. It is too late. And it brings with it the Eternal Void.
Art is the result of this personal confrontation with the Immortal Chaos. Art arises out of isolation, silence, and solitude. It emerges simply to bear witness. We see it in the eyes of Rembrandt or the colour fields of Newman. Everywhere you look, from Tapies to Rothko and Turner, there are the remains of a deep, honest, simple introspection and defiance.
Art is the opposite of consumption. Art is a witness.”© Copyright 2021 Cedric Vanderlinden