THE ROOT-TRADITION OF MODERN ART
by Adi Da Samraj
A new approach to the process of making images began in the late nineteenth century, essentially, with Cézanne—extended principally by Picasso, but also by numerous others, including those who worked in the cubist mode and beyond it—and continued until about 1950, or the end of World War II. Because of the devastation in Europe after World War II, many of the artists who had been working in this new, free mode were interrupted—and the movement continued in America, in an entirely different mode and with different interests.
Cézanne was involved in the impressionist mode of making images, yet there was not sufficient structure in it for him, only the eye’s response to color. He wanted to cultivate a more classical approach, in which structure is fundamental. His view was that, when one examines nature, one finds it is made of cylinders, spheres, and cones. Such was the new tradition demonstrated by Cézanne and others—each with a unique approach, but using such fundamental structures as the basis for generating an image. Such is the tradition that is essential to the way of making images that developed from the time of Cézanne.
A great deal of secondary art has been made and valued since then. If you compare any image made since 1950 to the art of the first half of the twentieth century, you will see the difference between the profound and great art that was being made during that earlier fifty-year period and much of the casual, even ironic art of the post–World War II period. Of course, the more recent art is interesting, and people are doing creative work. However, if one is to be involved in the profound process, one must return to the root-understanding of modernism—or at least continue to work on its basis.
Every artist works in the context of the art of the world. Therefore, all the arts (and not only the plastic arts) are the domain of the artistic work I do—fundamentally, the domain of world art from Cézanne through approximately 1950, the domain of art that transcends “point of view”. In the art I make, I am indicating the transcending of “point of view” for the philosophical and spiritual reasons I have communicated in the books I have written. Yet it is this principle that I see in the tradition of modernism, as a revolutionary mode of generating images.
My artistic work extends from that modernist approach—the freedom to make use of the entire resource (both the natural, or "external", and the subjective, or "internal") without any limitations, the freedom to go beyond the modes and traditions that I would characterize as modes of fixed “point of view”. Thus, modernism represented an entirely new way of making images, an approach that is free but also not simply chaotic. In that sense, the artistic work I do is a continuation of the tradition of Cézanne, the cubists, and other artists whose work extended from early modernism.
The appearance of the camera and photography allowed this new approach to emerge in the making of images. Photography made it possible to effortlessly achieve the kind of verisimilitude that artists had tried to achieve in their painting and drawing. Therefore, with the advent of photography, artists had to reconsider what they were doing—and, in the process, they developed a new approach to making images. Therefore, the advent of photography has much to do with the modernist way of making images.
Copyright © 2007 ASA. All rights reserved. Perpetual copyright claimed.
EXHIBITIONCURATIONADI DA SAMRAJPRESSEVENTSBOOKS / CATALOGS