Toward the Spiritual in Art

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, opus 1728, acrylic on paper, 2012

Q: In view of what we’ve been talking about, I think we need to talk about the whole thing about the spiritual in art.  Especially since you do non-objective art, and one of the great sign-posts in the history of that kind of painting was Kandinsky’s famous essay on the spiritual in art. Your thoughts on that?

Do you feel non-objective art has a spiritual basis?  You talk about the necessity of non-materialist art.  Isn’t that necessarily  spiritual art or at least something along what Kandinsky was talking about?

ReeL: Oh, boy. Another book.  Short answer? No. I don’t want materialistic art, and I don’t want anything to do with spiritual art.

Q: Isn’t a non-materialistic art necessarily an art based on some kind of conception of spirit? Isn’t it this necessity that Kandinsky writes about?

ReeL: Yes that is what he writes about. But I think he is, in part, wrong. I say, in part, because for him, being a theosophist, it was probably true. But for me, and for where I think the culture is, and where the future needs to go, I say no, he is wrong.

Q: But is it even possible?  Is it possible to have a non-materialistic art that is not spiritual in some sense? In particular Kandinsky’s sense? in the sense Herbert Read describes  as a source of internal necessity?

ReeL:  Ok, when you say internal necessity, that is Sir Herbert Read, and I think you are on irmer ground because internal necessity doesn’t necessarily imply anything to do with anything spiritual.. I have a problem with Kandinsky’s use of the word “spiritual”, how he uses it, and all the baggage the terms “spirit” and ‘spiritual” bring in.  As far as there being art that is neither materialistic nor spiritual, of course it is psssible. In fact I would go so far as say that reality-based thinking will lead us to the point where it is inevitable.

 

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