FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 113 BEATLES (Breaking down the psychedelic song BECAUSE, what is the meaning of the song?) (Featured artist is Julian Stanczak )

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“Because”

Aaaaaahhhhhh…
Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the world is round…aaaaaahhhhhhBecause the wind is high it blows my mind
Because the wind is high…aaaaaaaahhhhLove is old, love is new
Love is all, love is you Because the sky is blue, it makes me cry
Because the sky is blue…aaaaaaaahhhhAaaaahhhhhhhhhh…
Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh…
Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh…

BECAUSE(Lennon/McCartney)JOHN 1969: “I’ve just written a song called ‘Because.’ Yoko was playing some classical bit, and I said ‘Play that backwards,’ and we had a tune. We’ll probably write a lot more in the future.
PAUL 1969: “I like John’s ‘Because’ on the second side. To say, ‘Because the world is round it turns me on’ is great. And ‘Because the wind is high it blows my mind.'”
GEORGE 1969: “‘Because’ is one of the most beautiful tunes. It’s three-part harmony, John, Paul and George all sing it together. John wrote this tune. The backing is a bit like Beethoven. And three-part harmony right throughout. Paul usually writes the sweeter tunes, and John writes the, sort of, more the rave-up things, or the freakier things. But John’s getting to where he doesn’t want to. He just wants to write twelve-bars. But you can’t deny it, I think this is possibly my favorite one on the album. The lyrics are so simple. The harmony was pretty difficult to sing. We had to really learn it. But I think that’s one of the tunes that will impress most people. It’s really good.”
JOHN 1980: “I was lying on the sofa in our house, listening to Yoko play Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ on the piano. Suddenly, I said, ‘Can you play those chords backward?’ She did, and I wrote ‘Because’ around them. The song sounds like ‘Moonlight Sonata,’ too. The lyrics are clear, no bullshit, no imagery, no obscure references.”

anonymous

Feb 11th, 2015 

While this song is pretty nuanced, there are some hints to help us understand its meaning. This song is about the fact that “there is nothing new under the Sun,” and a person coming to terms with it.
The first indication of this is the airiness of the vocals, combined with the specific placement of the word ‘because’ so that the phrases tie in to each other, i.e. “because the wind is high, it blows my mind, because the wind is high.” The other indication of this is that all three verses cover an element of nature that doesn’t change; the Earth, the wind and the sky are all here to stay. But how do we know the message isn’t so straightforward? We know from the line “because the sky is blue, it makes me cry.” This indicates that the speaker wants the sky to be another color, a common literary metaphor for one’s hope for an alternate reality that is all but impossible. The repeated emphasis on causality provided by the repetition of the title cements this idea. The melody is rather melancholic, but as mentioned earlier, the song is not one-sided, and the chorus points to love as one of the constants we’d rather not change.

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This was the last song the Beatles worked on as a group and I think that was at the end of their searching process as a group and they were searching for satisfaction UNDER THE SUN just like Solomon was in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

 “There Is Nothing New Under The Sun”

 Ecclesiastes  1:4-11

A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be among those who come after.Reading and navigating Ecclesiastes can be confusing and perplexing, if we neglect this simple working premise: Solomon is dramatically describing life here on earth, and the folly of that existence when God is left out. No matter how exciting life may seem to be “under the sun,” ultimately, it has no value without God.In the above section, there is really a simple thought reported by the writer: When life here on earth is lived without God, it is really soon to become very boring. This is a poetic expression that says, for all of man’s efforts against the reality of God, he gains nothing; earthly activities are repetitive and unfulfilling.“A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” There is a transience about human existence on earth, that really fails to bring us in touch with something that is absolutely new. If, therefore, we root our hope in the next generation or time, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. It will simply not be that different. Nothing ever really changes except for the faces, the names, the methods and perhaps the social/political dynamics. In fact, history repeats itself and no great thing emerges from “under the sun” that changes the essence of our existence here. We are born. We live and die. Others are born, etc. The world is a very repetitive place. Nothing ever changes. So, any search for real meaning and lasting profit cannot come from under the sun.

Examples are given from nature (sun, wind and water). In the natural world, there is a cycle that is simply repeated over and over, taking the objective observer to the conclusion, “there is nothing new under the sun.” {This text, “The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hasten to the place where it rises,” verse 5 – was the inspiration for the EARNEST HEMINGWAY title, “THE SUN ALSO RISES,” (1926).}

It is a weary and hopeless existence, to wait for the earth or the human race to come up with something perfectly revolutionary. Solomon wants us to know, “that ain’t happenin!” Tremper Longman III wrote: “After all, the sun seems to be constantly moving around the earth, but the pattern is the same each and every day. Even if one observes changes in the sun’s course over a year, it always stays within the same limits.” And, “The second illustration from nature is the wind. Once again, the idea of sameness within apparent change is illustrated: the wind gives the appearance of great commotion, but, when analyzed closely, is just going in circles. Nothing is changing at all. It is just more of the same,” {THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES, by Tremper Longman III, p.#68,69, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament.]

“All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” People here “under the sun” are always looking and listening, attempting to be satisfied, but always want more! We never seem to find what other generations missed.

“This is especially true now in the information age. Every day we see an endless procession of visual images: Comcast, YouTube, BlackBerry, Netflix. We can also listen to an endless stream of sounds: iPod, iPhone, iTunes, TVs, CDs, and mp3s. Yet, even after all our looking and listening, our eyes and our ears are not satisfied. We still want to see and hear more. Soon we are back to take in more of the endless procession of sounds and images. We can never get enough. There is always one more show to watch, one more game to play, one more song to which to listen. So we keep text-messaging, webcasting, Facebooking, Twittering, and Flickring. But what have we gained? What have we accomplished? Is there any profit?” {ECCLESIASTES, Preaching The Word, Philip Graham Ryken, Crossway}.

What does all this mean? “Under the sun” there is no answer, no ultimate fulfillment, no meaning. Most people are trying to get what they really need from “under the sun” instead of from the Maker of the Sun!

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.

Solomon doesn’t intend to merely express gloom. He wants us to learn from his book (as early as possible) what he finally learned late in life. If we are waiting for some new thing to excite our interests or fill our lives, it is futile. Life is far more boring than modern man admits. Political empires arise and fall. There are periods of war, followed by periods of peace, then other wars follow. The famous American philosopher Yogi Berra may have said it well: “déjà vu all over again!”

What really changes? Communication or just the methods and speed? Illness, or just the diagnostics and treatment protocals? (Do we envision that someday there will be no need for doctors and hospitals here on earth?) Does money really change, or just the form, the use and the systems of exchange? Relationships, Politics, Sin? Do not confuse methods with essence. The essence of our existence here on earth doesn’t really change. It is what it is. Whatever seems to be new “has been already in the ages before us.”

Conclusion: there is nothing new under the sun! Here, at ground level, everything is pretty much the same generation after generation. But, there is a God in heaven who rules over the sun! Meaning can be found in relation to Him, thus making life here tolerable, even delightful, and making ultimate perfect existence possible, through Jesus Christ. All those things that make life here so weary and boring can have new meaning, when you understand who God is, what Christ did and you connect yourself to the genuineness of being a child of God. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man,” (Eccl. 12:13).

 

The Beatles celebrate the completion of their album, ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, on May 19th, 1967 in London.

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Great Album

The Beatles are featured in this episode below by Francis Schaeffer:

The Beatles were looking for lasting satisfaction in their lives and their journey took them down many of the same paths that other young people of the 1960’s were taking INCLUDING THE PATH OF PSYCHEDELIC MUSIC AND FRAGMENTATION. No wonder in the video THE AGE OF NON-REASON Schaeffer noted,  ” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.” 

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

(Francis Schaeffer pictured below)

 Today we take a look at the psychedelic music of the Beatles. In the book THE GOD WHO IS THERE, Francis Schaeffer noted:

In this flow there was also the period of psychedelic rock, an attempt to find this experience without drugs, by the use of a certain type of music. This was the period of the Beatles’ Revolver (1966) and Strawberry Fields Forever (1967). In the same period and in the same direction was Blonde on Blond (1966) by Bob Dylan….No great illustration could be found of the way these concepts were carried to the masses than “pop” music and especially the work of the BEATLES. The Beatles moved through several stages, including the concept of the drug and psychedelic approach. The psychedelic began with their records REVOLVER, STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER, AND PENNY LANE. This was developed with great expertness in their record SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND in which psychedelic music, with open statements concerning drug-taking, was knowingly presented as a religious answer. The religious form was the same vague pantheism which predominates much of the new mystical thought today. One indeed does not have to understand in a clear way the modern monolithic thought in order to be infiltrated by it. SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND was an ideal example of the manipulating power of the new forms of “total art.” This concept of total art increases the infiltrating power of the message involved.

Here is an excerpt of a fine article about Schaeffer’s take on the 1960’s music:

Aldous Huxley(1894-1963) proposed drugs to give the high experience and wrote several books about it. He also used LSD.   Hallucinogenic drugs brought with it many rock groups including Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Incredible Sting Band, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix.  Some of the Beatles work also fit here.  As a whole, the music was a vehicle to carry the drug culture and the mentality which went with it across frontiers which were impassible by other means. There is the culture of psychedelic rock fostered by the Beatles and Bob Dylan. The next area of religious experience was Hinduism and Buddhism where there is a grasping of non-rational meaning to life. These eastern religions grew popular as Goethe and Wagner had recommended this thinking with vague pantheism. These seek truth inside one’s own head by meditation, but negate reason.

In the article, “Soli Deo Gloria,” 1-8-14, Stephen Feinstein pointed out:

The psychedelic music of the Beatles were a deliberate attempt to destroy antithesis, promote relativism, undermined the truths of Christianity, and promote New Age Spirituality and drug use. The musicians that followed them simply brought more of the wickedness. Since the message was set to catchy tunes and directed toward drug-battered minds, an entire generation bought into the counterculture movement of the 1960s, and we are still living in the ramifications of it today. Music has only become more relative and meaningless. It has only promoted more drug use, violence, and sexual promiscuity…

This all stems from the fact that fallen man rejects absolute truth because they reject the God of the Bible. In the past, they clung to idolatry so that they could appeal to some authority other than God in order to account for their absolute standards. But when the chief thinkers rejected any purpose or meaning to things, and instead insisted upon an atheistic existence, absolute standards were rejected. The philosophers wrote and articulated it, the artists painted it on canvas, the musicians promoted it with their new styles, and the general culture (literature, poetry, drama, cinema, TV, and pop music) unwittingly accepted it. Now this is the default mode of thinking for the people of Western Civilization. People reject absolutes even if they don’t know why. Most people would not call themselves atheists, but their entire view of truth and reality stems from an atheist worldview. It is amazing how the absurd ideas of a few philosophers were able to change the way of thought for the entire modern world.

So Christian, what is your view on truth? In a world where antithesis is rejected, we need to push the antithesis again and again until the culture understands they cannot escape it. There are ways to do this, and perhaps they will be shared in later posts. We know that it is impossible to live without absolutes. We know the universe does have meaning. Therefore we are not hypocritical or inconsistent when we live as such. But the culture is hypocritical and inconsistent when it rejects God’s absolutes and yet forms its own, while with the same breath claiming such absolutes do not really exist. We need to confront them with God’s absolute truth, which is the only absolute truth that exists.

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Top 10 Beatles Psychedelic Songs

Keystone/Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Ahh, psychedelia…that warm fuzzy glow of surrealism that drips over — and then into –one’s head. Though it’s debatable as to who invented the musical form, the Beatles were certainly one of the first architects to lend a hand, and mind’s eye, to the proceedings. Whether from the wellspring of hallucinized minds, or just a natural occurrence of the utterly creative, it’s a trip for the listener that carries on nearly 50 years later. So tune in, turn on and rock out as we give you our Top 10 Beatles Psychedelic Songs.

10

‘She Said, She Said’

From: ‘Revolver’ (1966)

With a biting guitar riff kicking things off, this beauty form ‘Revolver,’ oozes and throbs in technicolor glory. Written by John Lennon (obviously the most psychedelically inclined of the four) after an incident at an L.A. acid party. “Peter Fonda came in when we were on acid and he kept coming up to me and sitting next to me and whispering, ‘I know what it’s like to be dead” Lennon told Journalist David Sheff in 1980. “He was describing an acid trip he’d been on. We didn’t want to hear about that! We were on an acid trip and the sun was shining and the girls were dancing and the whole thing was beautiful.” In all of its two-and-a-half minutes of glory, it manages not only genuine psychedelia but pristine pop of the highest order as well.

9

‘It’s All Too Much’

From: ‘Yellow Submarine’ (1969)

This George Harrison-penned tune is one of the band’s most captivating works from the psychedelic era, and one of the Beatles’ great lost songs. The song was originally written in the later half of 1967 and was considered for inclusion as part of ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’ but ultimately shelved. It finally found a home on the ‘Yellow Submarine’ soundtrack in early-1969. Clocking in at just under seven minutes, it’s an unrestrained ride for a good portion complete with guitar feedback, trumpets, bass clarinet and general merriment.

8. ‘A Day In The Life’

From: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967)

It’s easy to forget 46 years later, but the entire ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album was truly groundbreaking stuff on all levels, songwriting, production, presentation and spirit. The finale of the LP, ‘A Day In The Life,’ is a piece of day-glo pop art in 4/4 time and still remains a breathtaking adventure. From the unassuming intro of acoustic guitar, piano and vocal, the song twists and turns as it adds color and flavor along the way, until its mid song chaotic climax explodes and suddenly becomes a totally different song. The perfect example of one of Lennon’s ideas and one of Paul McCartney‘s woven together seamlessly into a totally unique creature. We return to the Lennon theme and once again crescendo out-of-bounds at songs end. Recorded on a four-track machine under the impossible-to-understate guidance of Sir George Martin. No Pro Tools were harmed in the making of this record.

7. ‘Within You Without You’

From: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967)

“We were talking about the space between us,” so begins this heady masterpiece of ethereal drone from the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘ LP. The pure bliss of 1967 is in full bloom on this Harrison-penned beauty. Sitars and strings wow and flutter, as tabla instigates the rhythm that flows like an Eastern river into previously uncharted pop group waters, while George delivers some suitably intriguing lyrics. Though in many ways a Harrison solo track, it was an important piece of the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ puzzle and totally of the moment in time that was the ‘Summer of Love.’

6. ‘I’m Only Sleeping’

From: ‘Revolver’ (1966)

One of John Lennon’s most haunting songs, and of course, that’s saying a lot. ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ first appeared in the U.S. on the hodgepodge LP ‘Yesterday And Today’ in June 1996. It would appear in a different mix on the U.K. ‘Revolver’ album a couple months later. With Lennon’s droning vocal sitting atop a lazy, shuffle rhythm, the song creeps along with a certain acidic nonchalance complete with some tasty backwards guitar lines throughout. The spot-on backing vocals and McCartney’s always splendid bass lines drive it onward.

5. ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

From: ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ (1967)

As the Beatles began recording in early-1967, it was obvious a different approach was at play. The first song recorded during the sessions that would ultimately create ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ it was unlike anything anyone had ever heard from a pop group before. The final record of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ was famously made up of two totally different takes, with producer George Martin slightly speeding up one version, while slightly slowing down the other, then splicing them together to create one of the most unique records ever made. The lyrical imagery, the variety of instruments used and the overall vibe of the recording were all miles away from ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.’ Miles away indeed, but in reality, it had been just three years between the two. The rate of change and growth in such a short time still boggles the mind.

4. ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’

From: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967)

Although John Lennon always maintained that the lyrics were inspired by a painting his son Julian created, no one was buying it. It just so happened that the letters L, S and D feature so prominently in the title of a colorfully blazing pop song circa 1967? well, believe what you like, it lead to such other preposterous gems like ‘Albert Common Is Dead‘ and ‘Love Seems Doomed‘ (both by the Blues Magoos by the way!) Ultimately, that’s neither here nor there, it’s this song we are concerned with and what a song it is!  Three-and-a-half minutes of pure lysergic bliss, full of picturesque and surreal lyrics set to one of the Beatles’ most trippy songs. Trippy yes, but surging skyward at the same time, especially on the dynamic chorus. The inventive bass playing of Paul McCartney kept getting more crucial to the band’s sound, and it is in full flight here. Later covered successfully by Elton John, and brilliantly by William Shatner.

3. ‘Only A Northern Song’

From: ‘Yellow Submarine’ (1969)

Though it was recorded during the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ sessions, ‘Only A Northern Song’ wouldn’t see the light of day until it was used on the ‘Yellow Submarine’ soundtrack in early-1969, nearly two years after it was originally put to tape. The song creeps in slowly and builds as it moves along. A variety of wild tape loops, harsh trumpets and percussion are used to create a slightly disorienting effect. Lyrically, it was Harrison’ jab at the Beatles publishing arrangement. “Only A Northern Song was a joke relating to Liverpool,” Harrison said in Anthology. “In addition, the song was copyrighted Northern Songs Ltd, which I don’t own, so: ‘It doesn’t really matter what chords I play… as it’s only a Northern Song.'” Would ‘Sgt. Pepper’ have been even greater had this mind-melter been included in favor of, say ‘When I’m Sixty Four?’ All signs point to a positive affirmation.

2. ‘I Am The Walrus’

From: ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ (1967)

‘I Am The Walrus’ is, without question, one of John Lennon’s finest creations and a 100% psychedelic adventure. The song appeared on the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ LP as well as the flip of ‘Hello Goodbye.’ The LSD-inspired lyrics mesh with lyrics that Lennon himself called nonsense. “The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend” Lennon told interviewer David Sheff in 1980,  “I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days.” The percussive use of strings is brilliant and adds an ominous touch to the journey, while the end of song chaos that erupts is a mind-blower unto itself. ‘I Am The Walrus’ is pure genius all the way!

1.’Tomorrow Never Knows’

From: ‘Revolver’ (1966)

The be-all and end-all of psychedelic rock and roll, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ has no equal. The final song on the landmark ‘Revolver’ album is one of the most mesmerizing slices of rock and roll ever recorded. Written by Lennon, the song’s shape was helped immeasurably by Paul McCartney who suggested the insistent drum pattern and also contributes the backwards guitar solo here. Though not much of a psychedelic-styled writer himself, Sir Paul certainly knew how to decorate the tree. The surging beat pushes the song into the clouds and beyond. The sitar drone, chanting, and tape loops all brew together in this psychedlic stew. The unconventional lyric was inspired by the Timothy Leary book ‘The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.’ Lennon said he wanted it to sound like “a group of Tibetan monks chanting on a mountain top.” A truly unique record that still amazes 47 years on.

 

Today’s featured artist is Julian Stanczak

Interview with Julian Stanczak, The Perceptive Eye

An Interview with Artist Julian Stanczak

May, 2012

Julian Stanczak was born in Borownica, Poland in 1928. He attended the Borough Polytechnic Institute in London from 1949-50. He received a BFA in 1954 from the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, and an MFA in 1956 from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut where he studied with Josef Albers and Conrad Marca-Relli. In 1963 he married artist, Barbara M. Meerpohl. From 1957-64 Stanczak taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1964-95 he held the position of Professor of Painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He retired in 1995 after 38 years of teaching. Stanczak has exhibited his work across the United States as well as in Japan, Canada, the UK, Kenya, Poland, and Spain. He has had over 100 solo exhibitions. His work is found in more than 90 museum collections, including: in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art; in Washington, D.C., the National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden (Smithsonian Institution), the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum; the Butler Museum of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; the Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; the RISD Museum, Providence, Rhode Island; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, and many others across the US. Stanczak is represented internationally by Mitchell-Innes & Nash of New York City. He lives and works in Seven Hills, Ohio with his wife, the sculptor Barbara Stanczak.

Julie Karabenick: You have often said that color is the central concern of your art making.

Proportional Mixing
Proportional Mixing, acrylic on 30 panels, each 41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 in), 2011
(Unless otherwise noted, all images courtesy of Julian Stanczak and
Danese, New York City, NY)

Julian Stanczak: Yes, my primary interest is color—the energy of the different wavelengths of light and their juxtapositions.

Kitra's Light
Kitra’s Light, acrylic on canvas, 178 x 178 cm (70 x 70 in), 1988

The primary drive of colors is to give birth to light. But light always changes; it is evasive. I use the energy of this flux because it offers me great plasticity of action on the canvas.

Line Up
Line Up, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 178 cm (50 x 70 in), 1978

To capture the metamorphoses—the continuous changing of form and circumstance—is the eternal challenge and, when achieved, it offers a sense of totality, order, and repose.

Rites of Spring
Rites of Spring, acrylic on canvas, 5 panels, each 203 x 112 cm (80 x 44 in), 1988

Color is abstract, universal—yet personal and private in experience. It primarily affects us emotionally, not logically as do tangible things.

Spring Green Woods, Evening Light
Spring Green, acrylic on panel,
61 x 61 cm (24 x 24 in), 2009
Woods, Evening Light, acrylic on panel,
61 x 61 cm (24 x 24 in), 2009

Color is non-referential. By itself, it cannot easily be measured or quantified.

A Blush for Krzys
A Blush for Krzys, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 244 cm (50 x 96 in), 1999

For our sense of order and self-preservation, we grasp for measurements, fixed entities, and control in order to formulate our relationship with our environment.

Lineal Formation, Blue
Lineal Formation, Blue, acrylic on canvas,
152 x 152 cm (60 x 60 in), 1989

Sizes and locations are scrupulously observed and remembered to satisfy the logic of the brain, which inquires, “What is it that I am looking at?” and “Where is it in space?”

Forming in Space A Forming in Space B
Forming in Space A, acrylic on canvas,
152 x 127 cm (60 x 50 in), 1988
Forming in Space B, acrylic on canvas,
152 x 127 cm (60 x 50 in), 1988

So I ask, “How can I dish out colors—colors that create beautiful melodies—without forms that will contain them?” As a colorist, I have to have the means to measure the density of the actions of one color against another. I must have form.

Procession in Pale Light
Procession in Pale Light, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 152 cm (50 x 60 in), 1987

Yet in the end, I do not want form for form’s sake. I want to shout or whisper through colorants acting against each other and create experiences that are more than they are factually. That is how visual poetry can be achieved.

Environmental
Environmental, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 112 cm (50 x 44 in), 1987

JK: How have you arrived at your preferred forms?

JS: I have looked both inward and outward for shapes and defining boundaries. I have searched for the correct containers for my colors and for interactive relationships where one shape does not dominate another in order to fine-tune a particular psychic response for the viewer.

Shared Center
Shared Center, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 127 cm (50 x 50 in), 1983-99

I freely explore shapes and boundaries as carriers for transformed memories and situations and give them new meanings in the pursuit of the color experiences I envision.

Zip Me Up Please
Zip Me Up Please, acrylic on canvas,
178 x 127 cm (70 x 50 in), 1995

Thus in my work, known formal facts—shapes and boundaries—debate with emotional or psychological energies—colors—on the canvas as they do in life.

Constellation in Green
Constellation in Green, acrylic on 36 panels,
each 41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 in), 2003

JK: What sort of color experience do you wish to create for the viewer?

JS: I want to fuse many colorants and their gradations into a single color experience—a “color meltdown,” as I call it.

Mystical Seven
Mystical Seven, acrylic on canvas, 203 x 178 cm (80 x 70 in), 1985

I am interested in the glow of colors as they interact and intermix, as they give to each other. And there are many factors I must consider to achieve the desired meltdown.

Sharing Yellow
Sharing Yellow, acrylic on 3 panels, each 41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 in), 2003

For example, I must ask, “How many containers do I need?” “How many opposing wavelengths must I use?” “What should their relative proportions be?” “Can I control a fused glow or color radiance toward the desired experience?”

Lumina, Cool Red
Lumina, Cool Red, acrylic on canvas,
241 x 178 cm (95 x 70 in), 1991

So whether I am dealing with the individual containers and their multiplication into grids, or if I am employing straight or curved lines and their repetition, the aim is the same —an interactive fusion. In this fusion, multiple parts unite in a singular action.

Fire Dance, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 229 cm (60 x 90 in), 1999

Of course any interactive process involves change. In the process of change, visual elements lose their individuality for the sake of the totality.

Accumulating Chroma I
Accumulating Chroma I, acrylic on canvas,
142 x 142 cm (56 x 56 in), 1986

And, as you know, unlimited actions are continuously entering our eyes. I am trying to find a way in this confusion of actions—this tsunami—to bring about order.

Spatial Description
Spatial Description, acrylic on canvas, 198 x 198 cm (78 x 78 in), 1968

JK: What types of forms or boundaries best allow you to achieve order?

JS: Anything that possesses order appears to us to be controlled. Geometry, the primary color wavelengths and the primordial action of line and edge all play important roles in this ordering.

The compositions of artists from all different backgrounds and times have utilized geometry to obtain visual order, an order reinforced by the drive for simplicity of reading. I use geometry because of the clarity of its visual notes and divisions.

Submissive to Green Submissive to Green detail
Submissive to Green, acrylic on canvas,
152 x 152 cm (60 x 60 in), 1982-83
Submissive to Green detail

Any referential aspect of the shapes or lines is totally secondary to me. I am not painting them for that kind of information. Rather, I am interested in how I feel about and respond to these shapes and boundaries as a visual person. If their order is clear, it offers a clear response.

Offering, Purple
Offering, Purple, acrylic on panel, 41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 in), 2004

Lines and edges can form shapes with astonishing simplicity. And fewer elements and groupings combine for a more singular expression as can be seen, for example, in Color Field painting and Minimalism. The key is to be as economical as possible, as minimal, with the utmost clarity.

Uninterrupted Blue-Green
Uninterrupted Blue-Green, acrylic on panel,
41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 in), 2005

To be selective is the problem. How much is enough? What is too much? When do the divisions and elements melt down into a homogeneous experience? These are the questions!

Tidal
Tidal, acrylic on canvas, 244 x 183 cm (96 x 72 in), 1972

As you know, Nature conceals its order, which under the microscope is mathematical or geometrical. In the process of change— transformation, permutation—Nature produces new physical forms. I try to melt geometry down and make it sing. I love the order inherent in all the sciences, and I admire the human capabilities involved, but that is not art to me. It is science for science’s sake first, while art should reflect the human spirit and responsiveness first.

Relief
Relief, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 127 cm (50 x 50 in), 1973-74

I want to touch the real truth. Consider Malevich and his Suprematism. Why did he paint a black square and hang it in the corner of a room? Think about it. He took the balanced forces of the vertical and horizontal that define the measure of a field; it is monumental because of its reference to the totality of the world. By putting a square in the corner with its diagonals, he is forcing the horizontal and vertical to a standstill. But they are not dead, not dead at all! They are in momentary repose, going but not going.

Or take Mondrian. He would say that the relationship between the vertical and horizontal—not a curve or an organic wiggle, but these utmost energies of up and down—are colliding against one another, creating myriad variants of our life experiences.

JK: You, too, make abundant use of verticals and horizontals in your work.

JS: To find my own way, I had to pay attention to the physical world around me. For example, what makes me stand vertically? How can I lift my leg and still retain my balance? All these physical forces and their syntheses have preoccupied me.

Intercession Intercession detail
Intercession, acrylic on canvas,
203 x 127 cm (80 x 50 in), 1984
Intercession detail

I love the vertical line, perhaps because it brings me closer to my own experience in life, which is being erect. Understanding the dynamics of experience confirms the poignancy and power of the vertical. It affirms a position or placement: “I am here.” It compares itself with the left and right and right and left; it measures the interval.

And the vertical invites the horizontal—active looks for passive—in order to establish equilibrium. The vertical is “here”, the horizontal is “there”; the vertical is “now”, the horizontal is “later.”

Structural
Structural, acrylic on canvas, 71 x 86 cm (28 x 34 in), 1969

JK: Quite often you cross verticals and horizontals to form a great variety of grids.

Rhythmic Overlay Rhythmic Overlay detail
Rhythmic Overlay, acrylic on canvas,
145 x 94 cm (57 x 37 in), 1987
Rhythmic Overlay detail

JS: The meeting of vertical and horizontal forces offers a standstill at the intersections. Because of this principle, I use the grid—the “hold/stop” in time.

Echo II
Echo II, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 127 cm (50 x 50 in), 2010

And if the gridlines are unconnected or broken, we close them up visually—again for the sake of simplicity of reading and for identification, for the sense of “I know what it is.”

Homage
Homage, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 61 cm (30 x 24 in), 1990

JK: So you seek a hold or stop in time, but certainly nothing static, given your fascination with transformation and permutation.

Spring Color—Light
Spring Color, Light, acrylic on canvas,
127 x 112 cm (50 x 44 in), 1983

JS: Yes. And movement is there because of the way our visual apparatus functions. Make a dot on an empty piece of paper: it does not stand still, it moves. Knowing this and ascribing units with their stops and closures, then repeating them over and over, we are forced to compare them. This comparison can be very fast like a staccato and establishes a sense of movement within a particular framework.

Cool Light Offering Red
Cool Light, acrylic on panel, 41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 in), 2005 Offering Red, acrylic on panel, 41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 in), 2005

JK: For many years, you’ve established rhythms across the canvas using repeating vertical lines.

Structured
Structured, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 178 cm (50 x 70 in), 1978

JS: Again, how do you arrive at a unified color experience—a color meltdown as I’ve called it? I can achieve this by using the rhythmic aspect—our heartbeat. Both grids and intervals provide this. We grasp the structure immediately through repetition and symmetry.

Soft Light
Soft Light, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 203 cm (50 x 80 in), 1984-85

The repetition of similar actions offers a rhythmic effect, which we might call movement or vacillation. In any visually active, complex situation, we pick up the simplest element—it could be a line, position or shape—and immediately we look for similarities to the other elements. For the viewer, the drive for simplicity of actions is primordial. In the search for totality and mental satisfaction, we group and re-group pictorial elements, trying to order them.

Side Step
Side Step, acrylic on panel, 61 x 61 cm (24 x 24 in), 2008

We are compelled to enjoy repetitive action, the beat. It parallels the life around us; it is the heartbeat of our actions. And the power of repetition offers the viewer the awareness of time. Time and the registration of interval echo our involvement with Nature, our actions like walking or talking.

Suspended in Grays
Suspended in Grays, acrylic on canvas, 178 x 239 cm (70 x 90 in), 1975
(Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.)

I like to compare this sensation of repetitive action to the Baroque music of Vivaldi, Bach, or Scarlatti—again, it is our heartbeat. Whether listening to a Bach cantata or a tam-tam drum in the jungle, repetition is in time and over time, and, as in perception, we human beings are drawn to it.

Crystalloid Green
Crystalloid Green, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 122 cm (48 x 48 in), 1973

In order to evoke the comparison of lines and their colorants, I multiply them, and again, you get caught up in the staccato rhythm. Now you might compare this sensation to listening to a quartet, where one instrument—or colorant—gives itself up and becomes part of the other voices—or wavelengths. I am fascinated by this behavior, and I use the term “metamorphoses of actions”—elements fusing or changing their identities.

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