well lads and girls, tis’ the Christmas (CHRISTmas) season once more, and Its been quite a wild ride starting my own blogging platform. As my gift to you, I wish to compile a week’s work of MMAM, choosing some of my most favorite and interesting pieces of modern and contemporary art. The very start of what I hope can be a tradition on this blog, or well, till Trash world finally shuts us all down, and we are screaming into the tech 1.0 void like lost glints of dust in the digital starts….anyways, I want to start off with a piece that i have personally loved and admired for a very long time. From an artist that I cannot express in words the utter soul-filling love, inspiration, and deep devotion I feel inside myself, in the core of my being for. Zdzislaw Beksinski, that frail little kind polish man, that reclusive anxiety filled detail obsessive, is a giant among the outsider art world, an inspiration to all sorts of people, from visionary new-agers, to surrealist and horror fans, metal heads, every variety of freak and modern outcast, you name it. His nightmarish dream worlds are filled with wondrous horrors, landscapes of pure desolation, yet redemption and eerie serenity. Some of them teem with mounds of flesh, itching, crawling, screaming, gnashing centobites and creatures of horror, others are filled with an almost dead and post-apocalyptic quietness.
I found out about Beksinski at an earlier age, I for the life of me cannot remember how, it must have been due to me growing into a metalhead, so some influence by osmosis must have occurred down the line. Now as a person whom has a greater understanding of my own art as a landscape painter, I feel that this is the piece that truly spoke to me on an unconscious level, and now i know why; Many years ago, when I first gazed upon this piece, it immediately struck me, the emptiness, the vastness of it, the cold and bitter desolation of the arctic, a soviet balloon escaping in the distance, flying back to civilization from the Barrens. Only the strongest of arctic wolves can withstand such a lonely, aired place.
This is what always spoke to me from Beksinski’s work the most as a landscape painter, not just the mind-boggling complexity of his work, the dark surrealism that defies the most vivid of mortal imaginations, the bones and muscles and knuckles intersecting and gripping, the darker side of visionary art psychedelia, etc. I love all this, but I enjoy Beksinski the most as a dark surrealist landscape painter, similar to the old masters on crack cocaine and bad dreams, how they knew the importance of the landscape as a backdrop. Beksinski’s areal perspective is unmatched in his surrealist genre, only rivaled by that of the Dali. Here the amber and sienna clouds trail off in the sky, and on the ground as the wolves look on, we see Beksinski’s signature bloody, mossy patches of earth opening up in the foreground, receding from the snow.
The piece is rarely titled, the only indication of one comes from the soviet observation balloon, with Beksinski’s signature vein like detail on the side indicating the uplifting winds across the Indian-yellow skyline, which itself is a good example of his use of brilliant colors derived from a limited palette that changed over the years to become more bluish and pastel. This painting has an amber-sienna and ochre, and pale-green color pallet that is the same as the one used in “mountains”, “flying robed orb”, and of course the famous apocalyptic wasteland with a bandaged crawling monster; “Nevermore” is on the side, to never be again.
here we can see the tumid clouds rendered with palette knife scratches and visible dry brush strokes, only the tiniest applications of paint to achieve that pale scratchy effect in the sky. He would often paint in large canvases, thus achieving a greater breathe of detail like the old masters he admired; It is very rare to have a titled piece by Beksinski because he abhorred all attempts to explain his artwork, stating that “what matters is what appears in your soul, not what your eyes see and what you can name”. Nevermore might be a reference to the soviet observation balloon disaster, “Osoaviakhim-1”, the record-setting hydrogen balloon that lost buoyancy in a high-G fall, with all three crew members failing to bail out, being killed in the crash. It was later revealed that the soviet engineers allowed the craft to fly with several design flaws, relying on the crew being exprienced in using parachutes to bail out if something went wrong. perhaps this is Beksinski’s small ode to the doomed crew members.
In any case, this piece is the most quiet and serene of the early 80s pieces where Beksinski came into his own signature style. The clouds even look like cumulus entities found in his various haunting seascapes, where the water is filled with odd algeaic forms.