The War of Art (poem)

THE WAR OF ART

Dear Reader,

Something you may be unaware of
is the way the various genres
within each of the arts closely resemble
religious movements, established or new.

You see, from the artist’s point of view,
if one is to devote so much of one’s time
to a particular set of principles or theories,
one simply cannot afford to be egalitarian,
unless, perhaps,
for the sake of political correctness.

The belief that “this approach is better
or more worthy than that approach,”
along with the passion to express it,
is all that will get the artist through
the many long vigils and collateral damage
it may do to them over the long term.

An artwork may be thought of
as a message which, decoded, will read

It is the artist’s belief that a work of art
ought to be constructed thus.

Whether or not the audience agrees,
the artist’s faith will continue to sustain itself
by means of the art-making ritual.

Just because it’s popular,
doesn’t mean it’s worthier.

The recognition of peers and critics,
while desirable, is not a prerequisite
for moral victory.

I draw your attention to this,
only so that you may become aware
that there is indeed
a constructive way to wage war,
an impersonal way to make love,
and a secular method through which
the finer feelings may continue
to be enlivened, or dare I say,
resurrected.

~

DARK WATER AND ARTHUR RIMBAUD (blog and poem)

I have been writing some poems recently which loosely make reference to the movie Dark Water.

I wanted to take this term and broaden its definition a bit to allow for some poetic license. The American version was adapted from the original Japanese,

which was itself loosely based on an actual spooky real life story.

The writers of the American version have taken some artistic license themselves, and I can’t help but see the whole movie as a metaphor for the kind of psychological healing journey that people recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, undertake. I can also see in it a kind of spiritual alchemy in which dark water is a code name for some kind of mercurial catalyst. In the movie, it is a kind of medium through which a dead child makes its presence known, and seems to bring about hallucinations both aural and visual.

The psychiatrist Charles Whitfield promotes the theory that PTSD is the cause of most disease, and that finding the true self is the key to healing, and when asked what the true self is, he states that it’s the inner-child, which has been lost, or you might say “drowned” by some kind of physical/emotional trauma.

The initial part of the artistic/creative process often invokes the carefree playful spirit which can just go at it without judging. The judge enters the process later on.
As we know, many an artist has relied on one expedient or more to help them see things differently, and kick-start this process.

Dark Water could be the artistic medium: the ink, or paint, the printed word, or music score.
It could be the intoxicant/expedient/catalyst: tea, coffee, liquor, or opiate.
It could be the Jungian shadow, the Freudian sub-conscious, or the Yin to the Yang.
It could be that beautiful reflection that Narcissus drowned in.

It could be that medium through which the deadened soul can speak.

The following poem is meant as a tribute to the French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.
I read an article recently about the photos he took of himself while in Africa, which he apparently developed in “filthy water,” the evidence of which is in the little specks you can see on the prints.
The fact that they were developed this way means that they will inevitably fade completely.
At this point I would like to call attention to his Lettre du Voyant, in which he outlines his poetic manifesto and makes mention of “the Comprachicos” which is a term Victor Hugo used to reference various groups in folklore who would intentionally restrain and muzzle growing children in order to make them look freakish so that they could then be sold to lords and ladies to used as court fools. Rimbaud states that the Voyant, or seer, must make the soul (inner-child) monstrous (a kind of intentional trauma,) which is the common trait of the Enfant Terrible, or Rebel. His idea of a “reasoned deranging of the senses” to attain the unknown, along with his alchemy of the word, help to broaden the concept of Dark Water a little further.

The process is really just a different take on the myth of Prometheus (or Frankenstein,) and there is definitely that sense of the creator as a criminal/rascal/trickster who steals the fire/light. We could also think of the Dark Water as the substance which, at the same time, fuels and controls the fire.
In the movie there’s also an interesting paradox of the below being up above.

DESCENT (A TRIBUTE TO ARTHUR RIMBAUD)

Dark Water
in which
to develop
the vision

Dark Water
with which
to become as
another

Dark Water
with which
to derange all
the senses

Dark Water
with which
to detail
the descent

Dark Water
through which
the drowned soul
re-emerges

Dark Water
with which
to conduct
lifted light

Then delib’rately fade

fade

out

of

sight

 

~

06

You Can Now Purchase Art Prints of My Work on Society6!

I’m pleased to announce that anyone in the world wanting unsigned prints of my past work can now choose from the variety that I have put up for sale here on Society6.

They offer art prints in a variety of sizes to suit. They don’t sell originals on this site, but most of the originals of these are still for sale, so just contact me through the contact page on this site if you’re interested.

The link again:

https://society6.com/shadyshen/prints?show=new&page=1

Melancholic Woman

Melancholic Woman 001

Melancholic Woman

Oil on Canvas Paper

210/270mm

With this work I was drawing from a few different influences, specifically Evelyn William’s brand of expressionism, as well as Picasso’s blue period, and early Russian Christian art. This kind of Noir lighting is a big step away from my usual style, where I mostly try to employ even light. There is also an intentional distortion of certain facial features, most notably the enlargement of the eyes and shrinking of the mouth. The use of straight lines, as opposed to curves, for the eyebrows and bridge of the nose was also intended to help intensify the feeling of the piece.

Audio Poem: Connotations Unravelled

I have uploaded some old recordings of mine to YouTube.
This one is for all the young aspiring artists who are getting a hard time from their parents, not explicitly, but just in the little connotations in the things they say from time to time. The idea of this poem was to unravel and amplify these connotations as much as possible:

I will post some more of the tracks soon.

THE ZOMBIE REALM (poem)

For the sake
of their important
thought experiments,
philosophers like to sometimes
contemplate a realm,
parallel to ours,
which contains
all of the same stuff,
but in which the people
have no self-consciousness
whatsoever.

They refer to it
as “The Zombie Realm”,
where “zombie”,
in this sense,
means a human being
without the capacity
to become conscious
of its thoughts,
feelings or actions.

Everything there
is programmed,
reflexive and automatic.

Even scepticism exists
in the Zombie Realm,
because they have adopted it
as just another dogma
among many.

There are also artists,
musicians and poets.

In fact,
come to think of it,
there must be a dude
who looks just like I do,
sitting at his desk,
waxing lyrical about the beauty
of such a fine autumn afternoon,
and who will, likewise,
on a rainy day,
predictably write
of sadness and solitude.

Having learnt the rules
of aesthetics and proper technique,
his paintings will no doubt,
receive mostly positive responses
from the zombie audiences
and fair reviews
from most of the zombie critics,
except for those
whose dogma it is
to set themselves
apart from the rest,
and knock the work
just due to its having been
largely well received
(unsurprising really,
since they have learnt
to do so by rote.)

It’s at this point
in the thought experiment
where I realise
the appropriateness
of the term “Zombie Realm”,
since its frightening similarity
makes me start to wonder
which realm,
human or zombie,
that I actually exist in.

Loath to unravel
this ball of string,
I leave it alone,
take a deep breath,
shrug, smile,
and write that lament
for the departing sun

regardless.

~

Portrait in Water-Mixable Oil Paint

I am always collecting source material for paintings, and I like to mix and match for portraiture, for example, this face, with that hairstyle, or this body with that head, etc.
Picasso said that in order to create, one must destroy. I look at the face, and do a few drawings to distort the proportions, and stylise the features. Next, i position the figure within the border for what i feel to be an appropriate composition.
The ground for this work was black gesso.

Female Bust 303.400mm scanned 26.02.16 for web

Bust of Female

303/400mm

Oil on Panel