Art is never more obscure than when it invokes the language of the unconscious. Thankfully, we have guides – shamans who venture into the unknown and return, inviting us to join them . Avant garde artist Joan Miro is a shaman of symbolic art. I saw his “Experience of Seeing” exhibit at the McNay Museum in San Antonio and entered the realm of the body/mind in order to see it. Joan Miro acknowledges:
It is difficult for me to talk about my painting, since it is always born in a state of hallucination, brought on by some jolt or another – whether objective or subjective-which I am not in the least responsible for.
Art critic Waldemar George described it in 1929 “as the painting of a physical vacuousness that easily balances out its interior magic, with ties to cosmic sentiment and the intuition of mystery seen in the ancestors, like those who painted the caves of Altimara, whom he specifically mentions on one hand and to “congruent paintings, brought to life by strange homunculi and fantastical plants on the other. In this defining moment there came to be an encounter between the escape from speres and the attraction to the abyss.”
Jacques Dupin elaborated, “There remains a space where things and beings can abide and encounter one another through a series of exchanges and metamorphoses, and this passing site is none other than the earth: neither sheltered from the risk from below, or the beckoning from above.”
Arthur Brown knows something of above and below, exhorting us to hold a vision in our heart, to face our fears and join him in the formless depths of Zim Zam Zim.
Miro’s paintings and found object sculptures beckon us to see space as a psychological landscape – to respond without preconception to what comes our way, as children do.
I will make my work emerge naturally, like the song of a bird or the music of Mozart, with no apparent effort, but thought out at length and worked out from within . . everything becomes strange, shifting, clear and confused at the same time. Forms give birth to other forms, constantly changing into something else.
Arthur Brown invites us with many of the same numinous symbols as Miro: the spirit bird of our imagination, woman, sex and the fire of fear, rage and ultimate annihilation. An existential burlesque that finally asks, “Who the fuck am I?” in this montage from his Strange Brew show in Austin (without his full band).
As we traipse from day to dreams, through all the stages of our lives and our imagination, it’s a good idea to keep a healthy dose of humor amidst the drama. So why do we even enter into the shape shifting realm of the unconscious?
Quoting Miro, ” As Kant said, it is the irruption of the infinite into the finite. A pebble, which is a finite and immobile object, suggests not only movement to me but movement that has no end. In my paintings, this translates into the spar-like forms that leap out of the frame, as though from a volcano.
That volcano is the fire of creation in the heart of Zim Zam Zim.