Monday, September 12, 2011

My Table Confirms Plato


I found an old table that I couldn't resist buying, although I don't have much room for it. This table illustrates Plato's theory about innate knowledge and the eternal soul. Not bad for a piece of furniture.

In the dialogue Meno Socrates helps a slave boy find out how to double the area of a square, by making its diagonal the side of the bigger square. Although the slave boy has no previous knowledge of geometry, he soon succeeds.

To Socrates, this proves that the boy must have had this knowledge from the beginning, even before he was born. This, Socrates argues, must be true for all knowledge and all men. We only have to recollect it. He continues:

“And if the truth of all things always existed in the soul, then the soul is immortal. Wherefore be of good cheer, and try to recollect what you do not know, or rather what you do not remember.”

Not everyone would agree with his conclusions, but Plato has a point: knowledge would be impossible without the ability to reach it, and that's human nature. It might not be eternal, but its seed precedes the birth of the body. Plato linked this prior ability to the soul, whereas modern science houses it in the gene.

My table makes no statement about either genetics or the imortality of the soul, but it joins the slave boy's struggle with the squares, as can be seen on the animation above. It transforms from one square to another with twice the area. Plato would approve.

But would he equip the table with an eternal soul?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Much more than CMYK and RGB

Recently, I posted a few of my drawings. Now it's time for a couple of oil paintings. They are from the 1990's. Unfortunately, I rarely find the time for this passion.

Few things are as fascinating and satisfying as oil painting. The colors are marvelous, so much richer than the printed CMYK or even modern computer monitor RGB. They have depth.

Also, their thickness and slight resistance when brushed onto the canvas increase the sensation. The strokes of the brush remain visible. In that way, it's both painting and sculpture, at least relief.

One has to have patience, because the oil colors dry very slowly. Actually they never do completely, and that's why they keep their shine and shape for hundreds of years.

These two paintings are simple studies, nothing fancy. A torso and a portrait. I was just having fun with the brush's dance on the canvas. I long for more of that fun.

(Click on the images to see them enlarged.)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Choose Your Weapons


In the arts, as well as at war, it's important to choose your weapons well. I wonder about musicians who go for the most unwieldy instruments. What were they thinking?

I met this young man outside my hang-out restaurant in Malmö. The double bass he carries is almost twice his own size. How many times has he regretted his choice of instrument?

I suspect what I cannot prove: artists are born as such, but coincidence leads them to their means of expression.

I'm not even sure that the artistic talent is genre specific. We're not musicians, writers, or dancers from birth. We're artists, spending most of childhood searching – unknowingly – for a genre and an instrument by which we most readily express ourselves.

That's why it's not easy to define a talent by one art form only. A musician can be more of a poet, a dancer more of an actor, and so on. Coincidence decides. Also, the audience is unprejudiced. They will appreciate a singer for his dance moves, gladly forgiving his weak voice constantly out of tune.

Art escapes restrictions and contradicts definitions.

So, who knows what compelled the young man on the photo above to pick up such a great load? He might have been thinking about the old saying: art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. In that case, he must be a great artist.

(Click the image to see it enlarged.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Painstaking Process



I continue the theme of drawings, but this time with something I made rather recently. It's a video of me making a drawing, and the changes it goes through before completion.

Drawings and paintings, they don't jump out suddenly in a fixed form. It's a process, more often than not a painstaking one. Otherwise the finished pictures will not catch the eyes of the spectators.

It's the same when writing a story. It has to be edited again and again, before its writer is satisfied. Unlike, for example, building a house, the story is erected, torn down, and erected again. Its architecture is changed fundamentally, over and over, before it reaches a shape in which it can rest.

Surely, a musician would say the same, whether it's a composer or a performer. The latter also has to chew through every note and syllable, in search of the way to perform the song that becomes unquestionably natural, self-evident, when reached.

So, here are five minutes of the struggle that is the creative process. I wouldn't say that it ends with a masterpiece, far from it, but I can safely say that the birth of a masterpiece is similarly painstaking.

More of my drawings can be seen on my FaceBook account, and more of my artwork on my website.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Pen of My Youth

Facial landscape.
Memory Lane. I went through some old sketch pads, taking photos or scanning (depending on size) a number of drawings. Here are some of the drawings I made in the 1970's, when I was around 20 years old. Oh, how I'd love to have time for doing more of it!
Embrace.
Portrait.
Quarrel.
Reader.
Renaissance lady.
Croquis.

Click on the images to see them enlarged.

More of my drawings can be seen on my FaceBook account, and more of my artwork on my website.