Do You Get It?

Black Circle
Black Circle

One of my favorite bloggers, David, posted a 36-word poem the other day, doing his best to “understand” it. http://davidkanigan.com/2015/08/20/oh-well/. a very lovely, emotional poem. I tried to understand it, too. And while a whiff of sense wafted around my senses, I, too, had a hard time with interpretation.

It made me wonder.

Do people who write and paint and sculpt truly abstract things truly understand their meaning?

And, if so, why are so many of us so duh about it?

Look. I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes I have to have TV show plots explained to me. Sometimes I don’t get the end of the joke. Abstract, in the purest sense of the word, is, well, abstract to me.

But most times I “get it” after pondering on things for a bit. Eventually the proverbial light bulb goes on and most of what I read/look at/listen to makes sense. (Except rap music). The truly abstract aspect of an artist’s creativity is something totally different for me, though.

An example of this confusing state of mind is Russian artist Kasmir Malevich (1878-1935).  A Polish-Russian painter and art theoretician, he was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the avant-garde Suprematism movement (an art movement in Russia that produced abstract works featuring flat geometric forms).

Maybe it’s because I skipped Geometry in high school. Maybe it’s because my teachers taught me to write in full sentences and not in cryptic phrases. But somewhere along the line I never got into simple geometric forms.  At least, not as a form of art.

Malevich explains his aesthetic theory. “Under Suprematism I understand the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” He viewed the Russian Revolution as having paved the way for a new society in which materialism would eventually lead to spiritual freedom.

I’m afraid I don’t quite get that from the painting above, either.

What is this roadblock I have to understanding the other side of the universe?  I opened my Sunday Evening Art Gallery so that I could share what I considered Unique Art. Different Art. Personal Art. Something created that, even though in one way or another you don’t always “get” it, there is some thread of familiarity that runs between the artwork and the viewer.

I never studied Art theory either, so that might explain some of my unappreciativeness. I can make a connection between my friend Dawn Whitehead‘s sculptures and the world, even though most times I’m grasping at straws. I can figure out haikus and rambling poetry as long as there is an ending that makes sense.

Words thrown together without an immediate connection — that I have a much harder time with.

I am determined to delve a little further into this Suprematism movement, along with poetry that has category names but no sense. I want to be a little part of every art movement around me, even if at times the art doesn’t move me. A child of the world, as they say.

Even if I continue to get D- on my comprehension tests.

 

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4 thoughts on “Do You Get It?

  1. It’s ok not to get it. It one way, there is nothing to get – if we apply zen thinking – ‘it all flows from the same source, and therefore none of it is distinguishable’ – it is our minds trying to explain that creates the problem. On the other hand, curiosity is part of our nature, we have a compulsion to dissect, to analyse. Malevich posits that materialism will lead to spiritual freedom; well imagine living a 1000 lifetimes of being so wealthy we can have anything we desire – eventually, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, we will look beyond the material because we become so bored that we have to conclude that there must be more to life. The harder edged abstract, like Malevich, are really pondering existentialism – i.e. the nature of reality, and that journey takes us beyond the immediate circle in a rectangle. Really, any such art is the preverbal ‘finger pointing to the moon’ – and not to confuse the finger with the moon – not to confuse the black circle art for the meaning, it merely points to the idea of looking beyond the obvious, asking us to see without using our eyes, and that requires us to feel our way through, like being in a room without light, we grope, and its ok to grope, but only if we’re in the mood for it – the beauty of free will, we have choice – to grope, or not to grope? The painting is ontological in nature, a philosophical questioning of the nature of being, reality, existence, and the idea that perhaps there’s more. If you haven’t already, check out some Alan Watts lectures on YouTube, he gets to the heart of ontological pondering, from society to zen.

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    1. I really appreciate your taking time to explain a little more what is meant by abstract. And ontological pondering. I know the blog might have sounded flippant, but I really do wish I understood that artistic choice more. I sometimes think education in art would have helped, although it is more ethereal than that. And I know the black circle in Malevich’s painting means so much more than a black circle. I wonder if you need to know more of the artist to understand more of his/her work? You have really opened my eyes. ANd I will go check out Alan Watts too. Please keep stopping by!

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  2. I’m the same way with poetry. I tend to be a more concrete thinker, and while I can certainly grasp the abstract deeper meaning of things, sometimes poetry takes more time for me to get than reading a passage in a book would. I blame it on my left-brain tendencies. The right brain is there, but the left likes to be the one in charge.

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