MODERN ART AND THE HUMAN COMPONENT OF DYNAMICS

I think it’s worth revisiting the Guggenheim/Art Gallery of Ontario “Great Upheaval” show, to more closely consider the trajectory of its presentation of a world becoming unglued. There is, in a painting like the one shown here, by Kazimir Malevich, who would soon confine his work to geometric forms adrift upon an abyss, an embrace of the amazing realism effectively hidden for millennia under a scramble of mundane chores. A composition like this seeks to ignite in the viewer layers of mystery surprisingly accessible to a reflective pause such as that induced by a well-prepared exhibition.
Contained within the project of displaying “Upheaval,” is a regime of wider physical initiative within which familiar individual and social fields participate as lending a hand to forces offering themselves as means to hitherto unfamiliar modes of conscious integrity.
    Therefore the show includes a preamble of works (like this Gauguin painting) pre-dating the rush to dissolution.Gauguin’s evocative use of composition and color here means to put human consciousness on the spot to recognize its silent partnership with infinite motions.

In this painting (“Contrast of Forms,” from 1913, by Fernand Leger), we are reminded of busy Paris streets (and even the Tour de France, pounding into our face), whereby the concerted instances contribute to a frisson far weightier and far lighter than the sum of the parts.

Brancusi’s sculpture—there being, in fact, a sculptural aspect to this show’s tearing into mysteries of materiality—offers a startling contrast between the leaden, quite brutal, bulk of the pedestal incident and the serenity being a truncated foil to that unsatisfactory, discordant mishap. As a sculpture, it generates its wider dynamic out of thin air (rather than an excursion across the canvas).
The recent film, Her, is, I believe, a noble and witty engagement of the dilemmas implicit in the long-ago, World War I-era, cris de coeur, perhaps–though understandably–overly triumphant in the first flush of myriad rare discovery. Pictured is the protagonist, Theodore Twombly (Cy [sci-fi?] Twombly being a painter-participant in those researches, a generation after the “Upheaval”) and his best friend, a system of intellection and wider consciousness, self-named, “Samantha,” contained in the computer tablet seen in the pocket of his jacket. He, (somewhat) like the worthies a hundred years ago, is thrilled to have found a soul-mate amidst an arid populace. His joy is short-lived; and, yet, he finds a way to make improvements, notwithstanding. Improvements here do not mean anything remotely like Easy Street.
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