Die Brucke…. continued.

In response to Robert’s reply, I have read more about the work of the Die Brucke group of artists. I’m not sure in which way their work brings to us to integration, perhaps the new symbols, violent images, in their work, send a prophetic warning of the horrors to come in two world wars. The new symbols created became a language of violence. Nolde was a visionary, he felt the inter -dependence of art and nature, his stormy sea paintings were filled with energy,
E L Kirchner, 1880-1938, wrote that the group aimed ‘ to eschew the prevalent traditional academic style…..’ He used old techniques like wood cuts in a dynamic way, while always remembering the old Masters like Durer, Cranach and Grunewald and the art of Africa and Oceanic art, which were becoming more widely known in Europe. Kirchner was deeply affected by the first World War, though too sickly to fight, he did driving work, when a new war loomed in 1938 he shot himself, he feared war so intensely. The Nazis confiscated his work. He understood the dark side of life and yet he inhabited the intensity of colour he used in paintings, the reds, yellows and blues, primary colours, and light, as did Van Gogh.
I can see how depression comes about by having an ‘isloated, unintegrated left hemishphere’, I facetiously equated unintegrated with unhinged! Munch had a childhood which seemed to be filled with dying relatives,it must have impacted on his thinking.
Art as a preventative practice against mental breakdown makes sense to me, I also think that the work which art therapists do with prisoners, also shows how people can channel their destructive, anti -social behaviour into positive behaviour, so diverting energy in a more beneficial way.
Herbert Read in his book ‘The Meaning of Art’ writes, ‘expressionism is a distinct movement in modern art, it arose spontaneously as a manifestation of artists and a group of artists in Germany ,in the decade before the first world war, was it a sign of the times? In France, the Fauves were not as violent in expression, but the need for change also existed.
I listened to Robert Plinsky reciting Donne’s Nocturnal on St lucie’s Day, beautiful sombre and emotionally charged. I can see how an isolated left hemisphere has a detrimental effect, art to avoid mental breakdown seems right to me.
I’m aware of the vast difference between depression and melancholy, having experienced both. With help, depression became a thing of the past some decades ago , but when one of my twin sons died in a paragliding accident in 2000, I knew melancholy all too well. Four Golden Shapes 001Without being barely conscious of what I was doing, I painted about twenty canvases over the following few months, geometric patterns, using mostly staight lines, concentrating on the mixing of colours, to fill the shapes, totally absorbed me. I also was reminding myself of Impermanence and the Four Truths, I painted a canvas with four coffin-shaped images, when I finished it I realised that the painting was an expression of my grief.
I then went on to paint more abstract images. The ferocity of pain became integrated, I found myself in a calmer place. Writing, visual art and music all have a similar role I think.

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