Thursday, May 17, 2007

abstraction, representation and trinitarian aesthetics

An experiment in criticism.

It seems that abstract art, in not imitating nature, is often imbalanced in regard to the relation of the whole to the parts, the many and the one.

Above you have a painting by Malevich, one by Turner, and one by Pollock.

It seems in imitating nature, representational art naturally inherits a pleasing relation and coherence of whole and part. Minimalist abstraction and Pollock paintings are of course the extremes in this case, but I think it's safe to say that much modern art (and architecture) suffers from a sterile, monolithic, boring oneness. And now much post-modern art suffers from an equally boring, un-coherent, sprawling manyness.

I'm not against all abstract art, but I tend to stick to re-presentation. But I think when abstract art is good, it is in a sense, good because it finds a quality, a proportion, a relationship between things, a coherence that we find in God's art: nature. And thus, while being abstract, it's strength is still coming from representation.

If you draw what is there in the world, you are learning from the Artist from whom all artist get their name.

Art (the skillful making of things to evoke beauty) is, when man does it, by nature representational, because man himself is an image of God, a representation, an imitating creature who makes by the law in which he's made.

And our God, in whose image we are made, and whose glory nature proclaims, is the glorious Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As the Athanasian Creed says: "the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God: And yet there are not three gods, but one God."

This world we live in, which was made by the Three in One, we call the universe. The creation, like the Creator, is one and many, unity in diversity, and so we call it universe.

Also, in creation, we often see a relation of part to whole, mathmatitions call a fractal: where the shape of a part mirrors (reflects/represents) the shape of the whole. An obvious example is a fern, but you could also take the shape of a mountain and a molehill, or a tree and a leaf, or a solar system and an atom. This too has something to do with the triune God who we know through Jesus.

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Blogger sfunsinn said...

This might be a strange question, but I was wondering where you got the drawing of the fern.. thanks!

5/28/2009 2:38 PM  

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