"True innovation in art is not
making something new and different
but making something better"
~ Walter Darby Bannard
I first learned of the expression esprit rude / esprit doux
= rough breathing / smooth (gentle) breathing -- from the title of a musical composition by Elliott Carter (written in the 1980s and dedicated to Pierre Boulez). This seemingly exotic term is merely a kind of an aide-memoire for pronouncing Greek correctly, perhaps a trivial matter for the rest of us. It however fits beautifully as Carter's title to a woodwind duo, and would not sound out of place with almost any musical instrument. In Carter's modernistic composition, the emphasis is on the interval.
In that way, both this term and its use to describe a
musical composition, can find a reverberating & fully
material analogy in the art of painting.
"Blue Happiness", 48 x 36 in. (122 x 91 cm),
Oil stick, acrylic & flashe on wood panel, 2022
"Blue Happiness" is a long painting; it took most of the year to complete.
Its rough basic texture was laid out on a cold winter day.
As initially conceived, this painting aspired to the simplicity of structure
and strong, dense and directly communicated color. Flache paint, flat and
quite matte in its appearance, was to be a perfect compliment to the idea of
rough materiality. It was going to be called "Stand by Me"... .
And yet, that's not where the act of painting stopped. Something was still a little chilly, austere, unexpressed. Just as yang is bereft without its ying, so
the rude is oft incomplete and unbalanced without its doux. The painting
kept evolving -- chromatically elaborated and compositionally more
complex. It grew happier and airier as the summer wind blew... .
"Blue Happiness", detail
Open, Sesame, let the joy enter, stage right..!