Friday, September 9, 2011

Excellent Images

Haiku [if you ask me!]

"Things more excellent than every image,"
says Iamblichus,
"are expressed through images."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 82)
American Transcendentalist
from his essay "The Poet"

This passage from Emerson sprang immediately to mind when I first viewed a series of paintings by my friend and mentor Leonard Orr (in fact, the line from Emerson is something I learned in one of his classes years ago). I am rarely one to suffer writer's block; in my case it's usually the opposite, same as when I'm talking: how can we get her to stop!

However, when I feel the need for some creative focus, I like to make a little game of scrolling through Len's artwork and assigning one - word descriptions to each picture that catches my eye. As I look at each successive creation, my mind races to figure out what it might mean, what it makes me think of. Other viewers have responded to the various paintings by commenting in the form of brief pleasing poems: Click here to see and read.

Last month on facebook, Len mentioned his summer task of reorganizing his paintings: "In preparation for my daughter's visit, I restacked all of the paintings in my apartment to make them take the least amount of floor space (the walls are already covered with paintings). It occurred to me I should start painting over some of these before I use new canvases or else I will have to become a hunger artist, barely able to fit through my rooms and halls."

"Pentimento!" I replied. And Len responded, "Exactly! I have always been drawn to the palimpsest, the liminal, and multilayered."

Inspired by this intriguing list of words, I decided to look through Len's paintings in search of just the right one to illustrate each concept. You may choose differently, but here are my choices:

liminal (from the Latin limen, meaning threshold; relating to a sensory threshold, barely perceptible, an intermediate state, phase, or condition):

multilayered (self - explanatory!):

pentimento (from the Italian pentirsi, meaning to repent; traces of previous work in a painting, indicating an artist's change of plan during the creation process):

palimpsest (from the Greek meaning scraped clean; a page from which the text has been scraped off and written over). This one was easy, as I have already described a couple of Len's painting as such, when I was writing last autumn about the beauty and mystery of ginkgo tree:
Additional paintings by Leonard Orr,
seen previously on this blog:

Golden Paintings by Leonard Orr

End of Summer Sounds

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