Esoteric and mysticism inspired creations have always been a little strange, drawing on all kinds of imagery and symbolism to represent the unrepresentable. Just take a look at the work of Bosch, Blake, and Böcklin to see how the imaginary world of the spirit realm is given precedence by visionary artists.
“The artist must be blind to distinction between 'recognised' or 'unrecognised' conventions of form, deaf to the transitory teaching and demands of his particular age.”
― Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art
To take something to new levels of perception, we have to see things in new ways. Art is all about representation. The way we perceive art depends on what it represents to us. To see familiar themes and forms running through works, we associate one with the other and make personal judgements on taste. So to break from form,to talk about something in a way that no-one else is doing, it's not surprising when nobody listens. To make a mark, to notch that tree of creativity with our idea, it must become bigger than we are.
The art of the nineteenth and twentieth century painter František Kupka has been pivotal in the way we look at colour, form, and representation. Perhaps the Godfather of the Abstract Art scene, the works peel totally away from the realism and iconic portrayals so many had strived to produce. Kupka forgot about making things look real, he forgot about natural, he forgot about material. The works show us life and sensations with what was then a brand new language.
As a huge influence on Marcel Duchamp, Kupka is perhaps more recognised through the latter's more famous offerings. The Grand Palais in France has made a huge effort to re-shift the power-balance in the equation. Showing over 300 pieces including manuscripts, paintings, photography, and papers, the Czech artist is being shown for the true inspiration that he was.
Described often as the “Artist's artist”, the personality of Kupka made its way into that of several other big names at the time. In this depository of creative ideas that was the larger community and social life of the artist, naturally many more slightly adjusted templates emerged. Well travelled, being born in what was then Austria-Hungary in the 1870s, Kupka moved to Prague to study fine arts. He then established himself in Montmatre, Paris, in 1896 and began his career.
For the first time in the general field of view, colour and shape were used to symbolise sensations and relationships between ourselves and the hidden world. In occult fashion, hidden meanings were knitted through the various shapes and patterns depicted. By showing colour as vibrant and full of light, people become almost dream like beings experiencing material situations. This is the doorway many other artists needed to walk through to find their niche in the painting and descriptive arts world.
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