On Indestructibility of Image

During the opening of a major exhibition, one of the famous painters said to me suddenly: "I canít stand the pretense and falsehood, you donít t even suspect how widely phenomenon of dissimulation in art is widespread: almost all the paintings presented here are untrue."

I admit that such an opinion in the mouth off acclaimed artist really surprised me. Then, however, I did not let it him know, but I added that the art of simulating art really thrives in our time without any major obstacles.
However, after returning to the studio I was tormented by questions and doubts. If in the face of rapid development of this phenomenon present methods of perception of images will disappear forever? Are we helpless witnesses of the final disappearance of art searching for traces of the divine? Or maybe we have to deal only with simulated art and art of pretending to understand art?

It seems that those who trade art, often treating it as a cash cow, are not interested in at least some initial form of positive selection. Even worse, this quiet and mutually turning a blind eye to lawlessness and artistic untruth entails equally degeneration of art and the artists themselves, who quickly learned to produce the so-called "objects of art", similarly to production of cheese or other ordinary objects.

Today, it is more and more difficult (even "after a few deeper") to learn from a friendly fellow painter something important about the reasons for creation of a specific image. Contemporary artists eagerly discuss about rankings; it rarely happens that they mention something about even trivial pretexts or secondary circumstances of artwork's origin. Symptomatic that in our time there is nothing that ignites artistic emotions more than the amounts obtained in the auctions for the artistic creations of colleagues.
If so, it comes to mind further questions about these works, which are not born with the pretense, but are the result of authentic artistic pursuits. Sphere, from which they "come" let's pre-call, in contrast to the sacral realm, "sacral sphere" (from sanctum). It is an undeniable fact that, in contrast to simulated art, which has no prospects besides a material gain and short-term publicity, there is a class of works, which in some periods remain in the unrecognized zone.

Therefore, it is impossible not to ask whether in the situation of disappearance of a man, and with him his look, some elements of such artworks will survive the final conflagration of the known human world? And if representations, which contain elements of divinity, after the disappearance of their material form, will have the power to save and transfer some of the most important elements of ideas to another, more perfect level of presence?

Unfortunately, the current art do not answer such questions, preferring to remain in the dark, the lower zone of indifference to so-called border question and it deeper plunges into satanolatry (demonism), manifested by understanding of art only as game and fun. The reasons for this state should be sought in religious dispossession, which manifests itself in the form of flattened and dying imagination of Western man. Imagination contains the word imago - "image". To realize what semantic field we are in, it is enough to recall the imago Dei, or "in the image and likeness" from the Book of Creation.

It is imagination that enhances in the creative process search, actualization, finding and realization of the Image. I suspect that the current loss of imagination is one of the main reasons for the degeneration of art as such. A man without imagination is a man incomplete, spiritually crippled.
Imagination opens a sensitive human to Image and allows him to enjoy his inner wealth by achieving ability to experience the world of spiritual values as a Fullness and an ordered Wholeness. Contemporary atrophy of this ability of mind causes that a man is cut off from the wealth of images flowing from this source. A man spiritually barren easily falls into the trap of fantasy. And in the situation of dictates of fantasy creativeness in type of Beksinski or Giger can only appear.

It may be worth mentioning here about two great controversies concerning art. The first documented dispute between religion and art is Decalogue received by Moses from the hands of God on Mount Sinai and the ban of making images included in it. After the Incarnation of Christ, the dispute was settled in the eighth century in favor of paintings. It was made in almost absolutely perfect way by Byzantine theology of icon.

The second dispute is between philosophy and art. The first thinker who posed the question about the nature of the image in the field of philosophy was Plato. Platonic opposition icon - idol to this day is considered by phenomenologists and theologians (eg. Jean-Luc Marion), who did not cease in trying to answer the doubts on the status of images expressed by the Philosopher.

In relation to these questions are two statements, which are known to me, from XIX and XX century about the possibility of salvation through art. Their authors are two artists, theologians and painters in one person: William Blake and Jerzy Nowosielski.

Blake thus in Milton (plate 20) says:

... for not one moment
Of Time is lost, nor one event of Space unpermanent
But all remain; every fabric of six thousand years
Remains permanent: thoíon the Earth, where Satan
Fell and was cut off, all things vanish and are seen no more,
They vanish not from me and mine; we guard them first and last.
The Generations of Man run on in the tide of Time
But leave their destiníd lineaments permanent for ever and ever

And Jerzy Nowosielski affirms the indestructibility of a certain kind of images in these words:

For me, the icon is a pictorial mode to organize vision of man, human face, human body in such a way that as many as possible elements of our bodily reality transfer to the higher levels of human consciousness.

But especially important it is the second part of his statement:

The idea is that after the catastrophe of an individual, which we call death, or after the collective catastophe, which we call the end of the world, would have to be reconstructed - in a totally different conditions of spiritual being - the body resurrected.

These two statements confirm that if art is to remain art, it must take on the difficult task. No artistic strategy, even the most intellectual is not so contrary to the deepest nature of art, as today's fully aware strategies of pretending of art.

We can hope that there will appear the artist who with equal vehemence as satanic, blasphemous and anti-personalistic Francis Bacon shock human perception and the image of man, however with one major difference - that he will approach this task from the side of Light. This Brightness manifests as in Blake's vision by the fact that things and people are not lost forever, because "their faces are saved forever and ever" , and from Nowosielski's view that higher consciousness is the vehicle that transfers elements distilled from the mundane to another world where one can recreate the human person as the risen body.

Indeed, this latter theological construction, is one of the most bold and daring concept concerning power of the image of the human body, which appeared in the last century in Western art.

Cracow, April 2008

Władysław Podrazik