Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cure for conceptual mind/art

 Cure for conceptual mind/art


I recommend the book 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind'.  These are a collection of talks by Suzuki Roshi.  For the artist it is a gold mine of psychological pointers in how to keep a practice alive.  For zen practitioners that is its purpose, to inspire through sharing the zen mind of Suzuki Roshi.  There are passages where he speaks specifically if briefly about art. Still, it is not too much of a stretch to substitute 'art practice' for when 'zen practice' is mentioned.
The truth is it is this fresh quality of beginner's mind that is at the center of the practice. 

  Suzuki Roshi says, "Always be a beginner.  This is the secret to the arts as well as to zen practice."

     I remember being at the University in the art department back in the late 80's.  I was appalled to hear the professor's speaking of the end of painting.  That it was essentially passe'.  To me that idea is simply ridiculous!   Yet this is what is tending to dominate the marketplace.  What is called conceptual art.  As if a concept could ever be art! As if we ourselves are simply concepts.  I am not totally devaluing conceptual 'art' but rather when you look at the medium - concept- it tends to appear more as a craft.  The manipulating and manufacture of concept into some kind of real world expression.  The medium becomes key to the true understanding of any expression.  All one needs to do is pay attention to the medium.  AS I have said before some mediums are simply limited by their very nature as to what they are able to express.  This doesn't make them worthless.  WE , however do need to be able to determine relative value, and this for the health of the culture.
Painting is an art that will not die.  Anyone who thinks that it is a retro art form is sorely mistaken.  We as a culture have not generally begun to catch up with the realizations of Monet and Sisley etc.(impressionism and post impressionism), although the teaching is wide spread that we have progressed far beyond that.  In my experience that is like the wine connoisseur saying, "It is a good red if it stays down!"
Beginner's mind is a phrase that points to non conceptual experience.  It is like coming home to who you are just now, at this very moment.  Painting can be a real vehicle for this consciousness.  Art is the very real vehicle for this consciousness.  Looking at the world with fresh vision.  And when you have a devoted artist like Rembrandt, for example, expressing with his lifetime of experience and mastery the nature of a child, you have the sublime heights of the artform expressed.  My teacher, Antonio Salemme (1892-1995) was an artist of that order and he, by his example grounded me on that path.  I call it the high aesthetic path of modern classicism (classic modernism).  It is always being a 'beginner'.
If you haven't read 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind' , do your self a favor and get a copy today.

 copyright(c)william deraymond

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