Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yet another parallel world

I discovered this great biography in the Rotterdam library. There is lot of inspiring material in this short - just 179 page - book. Below a few inspiring quotes from The verbal and visual art of Alfred Kubin by Phillip H. Rhein. They are material for further research. As always: the professional artist finished his project with success, the amateur (me) is forever stuck in doing research.

Kubin himself once explained his creative insight into the fantasies of this world, "I do not see the world, just like that. In moments of strange half-wakefulness I am astounded to behold its transmutations which are often almost imperceptible, so that in my first stage of awareness they are seldom clearly seen, but must be groped for and gradually hunted out." 

"I felt the common bond between everything. Colours, smells, sounds, and tastes became interchangeable. And then I understood: the world is the power of imagination, imagination is power. Wherever I went and whatever I did, I was intent on increasing my joys and my sorrows, and secretly I laughed at both."

He realized that "it is not only in the bizarre, exalted, or comic moments of our existence that the highest values lie, but that the painful, the indifferent, and the incidental-commonplace contain these same mysteries. He was now moved by "universal life that mysteriously intermingles in men, animals, and plants, in every stone, in every created or uncreated thing".

"Diligently I studied the poetry of mossy court yards, hidden attics, shadowy back rooms, dusty spiral staircases; gardens gone to seed and overgrown with nettles; the wan colours of tile and parquet floors; blackened chimney-pots and the world of bizarre fireplaces. I played constant improvisations on a single melancholy, underlying theme - the misery of bereavement and the struggle against the incomprehensible.

I attempted the direct creation of new forms according to mysterious rhythms that I had begun to feel; they writhed, coiled, and burst against one another. Then I went even further by giving up everything but line, and developed a peculiar linear system, a fragmentary style that was closer to writing than to drawing. Like a sensitive meteorological instrument, it expressed the tiniest variation in my moods. 'Psycho-graphics' is what I called this style, and I intended some day to write a commentary on it".

He recaptured what G. K. Chesterton referred to as "spiritual wonder." "Everything," Chesterton wrote, "has another side to it ... Viewed from that other side a bird is a blossom broken loose from its chain of stalk, a man a quadruped begging on its hind legs, a house a giantesque hat to cover a man from the sun, a chair an apparatus of four wooden legs for a cripple with only two. This is the side of things which tends most truly to spiritual wonder.
In the art of his mature period his chimerical allusions are restrained and are held in careful relationship to the known and plausible facets of life. In these drawings total fantasy is rejected so that the credibility of the piece is not destroyed. Even if the events or the characters in the drawing are unrealistic or fantastic, the setting in which they are placed is often realistic. At his best he succeeded in what might be called the unnerving - rather than the negating - of reality.

Phillip H. Rhein, Ariadne Press, Riverside, California 1989
Amazon link
The pictures: `Die andere seite p. 87- Zwickeldt 1936 - Das Fabeltier 1903/1905

1 comment:

  1. Nice. This is really reminiscent of Mervyn Peake's amazing Gormenghast novels. I really hope you don't know them, because turning anyone on to them would be an honor and a privilege.