The concept that nature and us are one is not a unique one. Even though many still believe in the dualism inherent in the biblical concept of Man reigning over nature. But lets drop that argument.
How the One-ness of Us and Nature (elements, animals, plants, geology etc) manifests in man-made artworks, that is my focus. Let’s define Art Creation as the human mind’s attempt to express in a visual, auditory, musical of movement way an understanding of life experiences, of feelings and thoughts. Nature provides the source and inspiration which human artworks mimics a multitude of ways. Nature and natural processes are the inspiration. More and more scientific studies of the behaviour, brain activity in animals, insects, and plants these days verify what in previous times was mostly based on poetic insight or empiric observation. We are ever more in awe of how intimate our relationship with our natural environment really is. And how we are not only inspired or soothed emotionally by nature, but how we actually mimic, being it unconsciously, that what we had previously thought had been inferior life forms.
When death or destruction occur in our personal lives, many of us still ask in shock and horror, ‘why does this or that happen to me?’ But then become speechless with admiration of beautiful gorges, magnificent mountains, forgetting that these objects of natural beauty are the end-result of destructive forces like heatwave, thunderstorms, erosion.
Mother Nature’s wielding her tools of creation through destructive actions seem to us unrelated to how our own consciousness is shaped by events we experience as harsh and destructive. From nature, we learn the paradox that imbues not only our lives, but our art creations, with depth and meaning.
Imitating Mother Nature’s tools of weather and wind, artist’s tools of chisel and brush give permanent expression in creations on canvas, paper and in pixels on memory cards in cameras. Ambiguity, paradox are the essence, in artworks as in nature, that really move us.
Without this fusion of these opposites, into a complex whole, we are left with something that is a bland kind of prettiness, or ugliness. Where there is tension, contrast, paradox, the door to multiple interpretations are opened. A hidden sub-text, like in a short story, or a movie provides the complexity we seek in a visual or auditory or verbal artwork.
This is the theme/concept that directed my choice of artworks, when I recently co-curated an exhibition, Nature AS Us for the Gallery One 11 in South Africa, Cape Town.
9 February 2023