Literary Arts

By Keith Morant 

As the greatest and all-pervasive generator of human emotional responses, music is a condition of being. What begins with the regularity of a heartbeat and vascular-system extends its rhythmic expression from the child beating its spoon in hunger, through to the drumming of the celebratory dance of life (or death) itself.

Just as ceremony is the sophistication of savage ritual, so music is the sophistication of life movement into sound. In music as we know it, this awareness and expression of life movement is translated, through sound, to evoke an emotional - before intellectual - response.

However, there are other kinds of music. Geothe once referred to certain architecture, as ‘frozen music’ and I have always been a believer in Walter Pater’s dictum that all art should ‘constantly aspire to the condition of music.’

This does not mean that it is necessarily an artist’s wish to transpose a sound into its colour equivalent, nor wish to correlate, imitate or emulate any type of musical composition or composer. (Having said that, I must admit that when working at ‘my own music’ certain composers may influence it.)

Music is merely the truthful response of personal existence at any given time and place. There is the music of growth, both microcosmic and macrocosmic, (classically termed “The Music of the Spheres”). This is the resultant combustion of energy that translates this great rhythm of life into a visual phenomenon.

For me, much of this music lies in the crowded wilderness of my unconscious from where it often (obsessively) manifests through some unfathomable cognitive connection. This connection is usually initiated by positive conscious feelings that are agitated into expression by unconscious desires, and while I often experience difficulties in getting started, eventually something ‘clicks’ and the unconscious ‘music’ surfaces and resonates (silently) through the studio.

In the case of abstract painting the connections are not so unfathomable. They stem from the fact that, once recognized, there is very little in our lives that cannot be turned from a visual psychological parallel to what we commonly accept as ‘music for the ears’ and vice-versa.

Music is the 'metamorphic' gesture of time - visual art is the 'metamorphic' gesture of space. Together they nourish the great 'metamorphic' space-time continuum that we know as 'existence'.


                                                    by Keith Morant                                                  
   In the consideration of artistic expression, whether as creator or spectator, the most important factor is the ability to discern between what is true quality and what is merely novelty. Novelty is that which may have popular appeal but fades in its importance with the passing of time. Quality, on the other hand, is that which often, in spite of unpopular or controversial inception, increases in its importance with the passing of time.
  Quality in art is an ultimate truth expressed through an individual’s unique experience of existence. Its success in expression and transmission lies in its potential to communicate something more than its surface values only. Such quality is revealed to the observer (albeit often too slowly) through that teasingly intangible element which elicits epithets like 'transcendent', 'mysterious', or 'spiritual'. It communicates through the Neuro system and the unconscious rather than the intellect and conscious.
   Of course, the greatest and most immediate conveyor of such quality is always that most abstract of all the arts, music. However, throughout this century, (especially since the demise of the visual academism which preceded the invention of photography) visual art has been reborn. We have witnessed a great shift in human conscious awareness to a level where pictorial art is continually establishing new values and criteria as to what is, and what is not 'quality'.
   I believe that if the artist of today is to rise above the banality of novelty and escape the seductive forces of popularity and material gain then he must be prepared to sacrifice much. By 'sacrifice' I refer to that which T. S. Eliot meant when he said: "The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality".
 Whatever he creates, the artist must express more than just himself; he must convey the deepest truth of his being through which nature, as a primal force, has moved. His expression must aspire to clarity of vision and a vitality of life, which is untainted by illusion. His work must always present something that is totally new, but which will begin to age from the moment of first being encountered. The mind of every new viewer is another birthplace for the work of art - where its potential qualities will enter the psyche as a newborn enters the world. As the knowledge of its existence is assimilated, so the ageing process begins - evoking new knowledge, new language and new sense of purpose - and in art, as in life - real progress is always in purpose rather than statement. 
  Of course, attached to such effort is the great paradox that the ego (the strongest driving force behind any human endeavour) becomes an anathema to such manifestations and must, therefore, be overcome. If the creator can suppress the illusionist dualities of ego (Eliot's sacrifice of self) and maintain his allegiance to the creative principle; if he can sustain a deeper questioning of existence through his own experience of being, and if he can avoid compromising his direction by conforming to social, political, or philosophical influences, then his production may eventually find a place in the collective human psyche; to stand as a symbol of the universal creative impetus that establishes our ideals and aspirations towards a better future.
 Also, of course, through its particular type of stimulative nourishment, it will become recognized as QUALITY.

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