With the exciting phase the newly vigorous and subversive Serious Contemporary American Realism is entering rapidly and inevitably, and with the “official” art world having neither ability nor credibility to contemplate it - it is becoming increasingly important for artists themselves to fill the intellectual void and to give the insights to their thinking behind their constantly developing work.
I think it is of a crucial importance that the points of view from the significant to our movement figures are presented adequately, and that the artists have an ability to deliver their unpolluted message and to describe their position in the most authentic personal voice backed by their work, life-long reputation and experience.
Always fascinated with the views of artists whose work I admire and whose thinking I consider particularly relevant, even when they disagree with each other or with me, I am enormously happy to welcome a great friend and, in my opinion, one of the most sensitive and elegant artists alive today – Michael Klein - to share his current views on ART and to unveil his recent work, a complete masterpiece that can be at peace next to any work in any museum – his breathtakingly beautiful “Moment In Time.”
There are millions of still lives and thousands of flowers of various qualities painted every day, yet in rare instances this genre acquires all traits of my beloved figurative ART form.
Separating “trick” from knowledge of nature, exercising restraint and intensity within remarkably delicate, yet firm and grounded color range, Michael physically slows the flow of time as we start realizing the rarefied complexity of his tonal definitions in this seemingly mundane objects.
As we do – they gain soul and share it with us. The pots that smell of earth, their emptiness inviting the cool glow of the Rose that is all at the same time real and ethereal like an Idea of Beauty itself, in his “Moment In Time” Michael delivers a sense of noble embrace of Life-As-It-Is reconciling it with the one he believes in.
Authentic and refined voice coming straight from the heart - it is a cheer aesthetic pleasure to witness Michael deliver a work of such main caliber.
Michael Klein "Moment In Time" oil on paper 20" X 24"
The Importance of Art and Beauty
When observing art, we look through a context of something other than the art itself. Essentially every person will end up deciding what they believe art is and what function it serves. The question I ask myself is, "Is there a basis we can judge art by?" I've come to the belief that there is. I will attempt in this article to clarify my position on what I consider truly to be "Art."
I must first point out that individuals are FREE to pursue whatever form of expression they choose and this liberty is completely unlike any other time period in history. Nonetheless, due to the absence of some external standard, chaos has occurred in the art world and now everyone is scrambling to find a way out of an "everything is art" philosophy. Essentially if EVERYTHING is art then NOTHING is art, and I can't agree with this position. I believe there is a necessity to find a common language to unite and guide us that allows for freedom of ideas without destroying the craft of painting.
We can observe nature through many different "conceptual" lenses and it will essentially remain the same. Therefore, I believe that everything has to be tied into "natural law." The only concrete thing that connects us back to great art from different time periods is the physical world in which we exist. A piece of wood from a tree is visually identical today as it was a thousand years ago.
Furthermore, our minds have the capacity to be able to contemplate our very being. There is no other creature in existence that can stop and admire the beauty of something so profound as a sunset. There are few things in our daily lives more fascinating than watching the sun rise in the early morning or set in the evening. So how did this subject become one of the most despised forms of art to the modern thinker? It can't be true that a modern artist does not want to contemplate the sunset. I think it is a deeper philosophical or psychological issue. Yet another example would be the human figure; the human figure is one of the most breathtaking subjects in art much like the sunset.
Let's take a recent example of a modern artist such as Jackson Pollock. There are many interesting things about what Pollock did in his career and what his life's work represents. Eventually though, one always comes back to the simple fact that his art is literally just paint thrown on the canvas. This artist was passionate about something and I agree that his spirit of freedom did come through in his art. There was no other artist in our history that dripped paint on a canvas. The thought probably never occurred to anyone that something so basic could have any importance at all. The innovation within his process was that it broke a pattern of thinking about what art is and why it matters.
I believe that a form of exceptional representational painting is closer to science because you have a fixed truth, which is the external world around us. Making art is a series of personal decisions based on that true source, which is the natural world. We can refer to it as natural law because it doesn't change; the law of gravity is the same now as it was before it was discovered. From the beginning of time the gravitational pulls of different parts of the universe have existed.
This brings us to painting and how it has evolved, or gone through changes, throughout the different eras of our existence. These are important issues to discuss because they have a profound effect on our understanding of art. We can observe just about any other activity and there is always a set of limits that the person participating cannot violate. Take for example doctors; they must work within the limits of how the human body functions to adequately do their job. They must respect the fact that our brains need oxygen that is carried through the blood stream and if that flow is altered we will eventually die. A tennis player must respect the law of gravity when contemplating where the ball will land and at what speed, etc. He must also respect the specific rules of the game or it ceases to be tennis and may become ping-pong. The examples go on forever, in every activity except that of our beloved representational art.
The modern-art world has completely missed the point of what painting is and why it is important. Painting is a subset of something much larger. It is a sort of homage to human existence and the joy of life as we know it. When I observe nature while painting, it is a long process of discovering many infinite subtle changes that make up a larger human experience. If I spend a month on a project, it is a month of my life poured into the study and eventually artistic reaction to my surroundings in paint. If you spend time with anyone that long, you will become acquainted with that person’s character, their spirit or their individual personality. The same is true with art. Painting is a reflection of the physical and metaphysical world. The artist is confronted with the immense task of trying to capture the human spirit within a few ordinary objects such as a linen canvas and ground pigments.
When we intentionally turn our backs on natural law or nature, then we are dismantling the very foundation of everything that is the only true thing in the universe. Popular trends come and go, but the same torso that was sculpted in ancient Greece strikes a chord and resonates equally profoundly today because it was based on a truth. When we enter into the realm of representational art, we immediately are confronted with the complexities that exist. What has previously been a respectable pursuit of human intelligence has almost been entirely neglected by certain institutions for their ignorance to what art really is. My hope is that eventually people will turn back to the world around us for their inspiration.
More new works by Michael Klein
"Boat Dock" oil on panel 5.5" x 10.5"
"Karina's Rose II" oil on panel 44" x 24"
"Las Sababs" oil on panel 4.5" x 7.5"