CAPTURING THE MOMENT – IT’S AN ARTFORM IN ITSELF
By Rosalind: East Asia Correspondent
“Are you still working on the painting?” a friend once asked me.
“I just don’t see the use in that right now, you know. I mean, you can use a camera to do all the work without having to go through the arduous process of acquiring a myriad of techniques.”
Without saying anything, I grinned. It appeared that she had made a convincing point. What’s the point of going through all the trouble of using various tools and spending a lot of time to create something that could have been done quickly and easily?
I often pondered that question extensively as photography gained immense popularity with the rapid advancements in technology during this era.
Occasionally, as I stood in my studio, surrounded by the collection of painting assets I had accumulated over time, I would find myself reflecting on the essence of painting.
Would photography perform better if all I had to do was make a resemblance to the objective world?One had pondered this question for quite some time until a chance occurred when I stumble upon a book showcasing the magnificent artwork of Claude Monet.
One sentence in the introduction immediately grabbed my attention. “A painting captures the essence of a fleeting moment, where everything gradually fades away.” I came to realize that the true essence of a painting lies not in its subject matter. It is the time that transcends all the terrestrial matters and renders them immortal.
As time passes, celestial elements meld and evolve, resulting in an enduring fragrance and a mellowness of taste
The timeless time — the aura that never evanesces
The representation embodies everlastingness. It’s no wonder you’re constantly amazed when you admire these remarkable works of art. There is a certain aura of respect and awe that envelops you when you encounter an artwork that is truly unique and irreplaceable.
This concept, which Benjamin discussed in his essay, captures the distinct essence and genuine nature that can be found in an original piece of artwork.
However, it loses its significance in the era of mechanical reproduction, mainly due to the rise of technologies like photography and film. Creating a masterpiece like Monet’s paintings often requires a significant investment of time, spanning months or even years. The object that the artist is depicting undergoes a multitude of transformations. An artist’s observation is not fixed on a specific moment, but rather seeks to capture the ever-changing play of light.
From the perspective of an observer, the world appears as a constant stream of movements and changes, giving rise to undefined forms. Therefore, a painting is not merely a snapshot of a moment, but a medium that encapsulates the flow of time, revealing the world as a timeless manifestation. This evokes the essence of a masterpiece; its radiance has remained undiminished throughout the passage of time.
Painting—a timeless elixir
The artist is an alchemist who experiments with time. As time goes by, the artist’s life becomes intertwined with every brushstroke.
Henri Bergson, a French philosopher, explores the concept of time and its various dimensions. One of them is known as durée, which pertains to the uninterrupted and inseparable stream of personal, lived experience.
Bergson’s perspective on time emphasises its changing and shifting nature, viewing it as a constant process of transformation rather than a collection of separate instances.
Painting is an dynamic process that seeks to bring together the pieces of a fragmented life. This dynamic experience offers an authentic journey that unfolds over time. The artist emerges as a crucial component in the creation of the timeless elixir. When an artist adds a stroke of colour to the canvas, it goes beyond simply capturing a fleeting moment and instead suggests an imminent transformation. It evokes a sense of both nostalgia and imagination. The painting captures the essence of the ever-changing cosmos, with its vibrant colours and intricate shapes.
The canvas—A mirror created by the present moment
The canvas captures the essence of the present, blending echoes of the past with the imminent expression of the artist’s brushstrokes. Thus, a painting captures more than just a static image; it serves as a testimony to the ever-changing cosmic essence of the present moment. The present moment is a vast and limitless expanse of time.
In the Tao Te Ching, LaoZi beautifully expresses the idea that our perception of time is a human construct. He reminds us that the present moment holds the essence of eternity. Crafting a painting is a process akin to the alchemy of wine-making. As time passes, celestial elements meld and evolve, resulting in an enduring fragrance and a mellowness of taste. Time is comparable to water, a substance that gains significance through its use. A painting captures the essence of the present moment, reflecting the true essence of the artist’s existence.
Heidegger’s perspective highlights the intricate connection between time and human existence, specifically Dasein.
Time holds a profound significance in our lives, as we are perpetually focused on what lies ahead. The painter’s passion transcends the mere observation of the external world and instead strives for a profound introspection, a journey back to one’s true essence. As the representation enhances the genuine self, the artist standing in front of the artwork perceives their own reflection.