Thursday, July 27, 2006

Essence of Painting

Excerpt from "Remembrance of Things Past" by Marcel Proust

I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and so effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognised their voice the spell is broken. We have delivered them: they have overcome death and return to share our life.

And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.

Recordings, reproductions, documentaries – how many ways do we try to capture the essence of inspiration? I don’t own a video-camera; I rarely think to even pull-out the old point-and-shoot for taking pictures of friends or family members. Yet I have both physical and digital albums full of photographs and recordings of places. What is this obsession with place that draws a person back from whence they came? We can’t relive the past whether it is lifestyle or friendships – yet we continue to try simply out of love (or a misplaced sense of duty) to the locale. Like the above passage from Proust says – maybe we are trying to contain the essence of those that fueled our own sense of purpose by holding fast to the memories and physical reminders we collect along our journey. Is this, in itself, the fundamental nature of painting? – DN

1 comment:

Omega said...

By coincidence I was recapturing a memory of my own today!