Symbolism - Art

The purpose of Symbolist Art is very simple in concept, very difficult in practice: turn an idea into a concrete visual image. There are a number of ways to do this. The use of color is the easiest and most obvious technique: red=passion, blue=serenity, white=purity, etc.. Another technique is substitution, one object standing in for another, a dove for spirit, oak for strength, arrow for Eros, and so forth. There are other techniques, but those two are the most common and easily understood. Despite the straight forward nature of the techniques, the artist is still confronted with the daunting task of turning a thought or feeling into a two or three dimensional object that is understandable without being trite. Symbolism was an important movement in the development of modern art. Kandinsky, Dali, Picasso, and even Jackson Pollock were all influenced by Symbolism. Still, it has never been one of the more popular artistic expressions. I have my theories as to why, but to express them may be less than politic. I am drawn to Symbolism primarily because much of my art is cerebral in nature. I find the implications of a flower far more interesting than the flower itself- rose for love, lilies for death, tulips for eternity, etc.. (It may not have been conscious intent, but Van Gogh’s paintings of sunflowers for his friend and fellow artist, Gauguin, was very telling. Vincent painted them in anticipation of Gauguin being the first of many artists to join him in Arles to form a new artists’ colony, a new family, and ultimately, for Vincent, a new life.)

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