Saturday, 8 August 2009

Art and Paganism

I am going to drop this here as something to come back to at some point perhaps and also to nicely crystallise the kind of thing I have ranted about in the past. It comes courtesy of Bo and as ever makes a superb point in style.

pagan art is often too literal--Lee, you've railed about this--too concerned with drawing deities as idealised people holding symbolic objects (egg. hammer, harp, flame, whatever). This is why they seem so childish, I often think--sacred art like orthodox iconography or hindu or Buddhist art removes deities/holy beings from the ordinary by visual clues: the elongated, austere proportions, inverted perspective, and limited palatte of byzantine art, and the multiple limbs and third eyes of Indian deity images. These bits of symbolic shorthand help to abstract images of deity, avoiding the cloying literalism that afflicts the Witchfest school of pagan aesthetics.

To end on a higer note, this is a picture I came across a while back from an album cover by a band called 'Mastodon'. With a little Microsoft Paint jiggery pokery it turns out as a brilliant representation of the Wiccan concept of the Horned God in a manner which suggests Old horny himself went to India for a make over. This image of him perfectly encapsulates the idea of wild and inhuman whilst at the same time retaining an air of anthropomorphicity, it covers areas such as new life, fruition, riches and death. It has the hunter and the hunted in one. It is a perfectly symbolic and abstract image that has done away with the realism of modern pagan art without going too overboard and becoming too abstract so as to lose the common symbolic imagery.


EB said...

Oh wow - I love that image. I love the contrast of the hippy orange sun and the sinister blue.

I'm not drawn to much specifically pagan art. I would rather a Durer image of an animal or a plant, or a face (yes I know, still animal), or a photograph of a tree or whatever, particularly if it's a tree that I'm familiar with and feels significant to me. Perhaps at the moment, with the height of summer growth all around us, symbolism feels less needed than in the midst of winter. Maybe.

Lee said...

most pagan art is shit. if i am honest :) i am finding that suitable imagery can be found elsewhere in artwork for the time being.

arth frown said...

After reading about pagan art on your blog a while ago and had a little search to find something that pulled my strings and come across this I find it has a raw feel about it.

Bo said...

Oh Christ. Lee, I meant 'palette', not 'palate' spelling is awful! Love the pic.

Lee said...

Bo - edited just for you :)