Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bloggers come & bloggers go, but Great Art endures

Rodin's mauri
Oh, my poor neglected blog! It's been so long! I rode off to 'save' my friend who I thought needed 'rescuing' from the capricious wiles of Eros. Turns out the only 'man trouble' was a Uni lecturer badgering her to finish an art assignment on the significance of The Gates of Hell. Starved of inspiration & motivation, she pleaded for my assitance. So, having little else to do, we immersed ourselves in books, discussion & beer, and in doing so 'discovered' not only one of most truly awe-inspiring masterpieces in all history, but fell madly in love with the great sculptor, Auguste Rodin.

An eye-opener, indeed! I really don't know where to start! His works are incredibly expressive!
Intensely 'emotional' (insofar as sculptures can have 'emotions'). Not just the extraodinarily dramatic poses, but the finishes, the surfaces, the textures! They make other sculptures seem inert, flaccid, or innocuous by comparison. Rodin's art is saturated with immense psychological depth & complexity. His figures often appear 'in motion' as if encapsulating that very moment of peak desire & passion.

I sat riveted leafing through picture after picture of hands. Who would've thought a mere 'hand' could convey so much anguish & torment, or tenderness & delicacy? Sometimes I sense a strong undercurrent of extreme agitation, something dark or demented or demoniacal in Rodin. As if looking too closely would reveal some alarming truth about mankind; so disturbing, in fact that we choose to avert our gaze to avoid confronting the horrible unwelcome realities of the human condition.

In Maori terms, we could say Rodin's sculptures have a mauri, or a 'life force'. The more rational among us will scoff, "Oh, that's silly, inanimate objects can't possibly have a life force!" But they're dead wrong, Rodin is alive! You either 'feel' the mysterious pulsating energy in his work, or you don't. But it's definitely there for those with eyes & hearts & minds to 'see' it.

All the more depressing
is the glut of crap art polluting Wellington's public spaces. What I'd give to trade all that cheap, gimmicky nonsense for one Rodin! That's what you call 'art'! And that's what will live on for centuries after all the other tired, contrived, uninspired rubbish is rightfully buried & forgotten.


PC said...

Bravo! I was with you every word. Very well said.

Jennifer said...

You couldn't be more right! I went to the Rodin Museum on a whim during a trip to Philadelphia, PA and ended up spending hours there, entranced.

And why not? I experienced desire, joy, triumph and despair. I was excited and disturbed and more than a little personally unsettled by a few of his works. There is a visceral, instinctive response to the alarming truth you mention.

The figures of the Burghers of Calais in particular were so life-like in their sorrow - and essentially human in their determination. I kept expecting them to turn and look down at me...and fervently hoping they wouldn't.

Thanks for the insight, Phil.