الجنون ومنطق الخيال في فن التصوير / Madness and the Logic of Imagination in Painting


Adel El Siwi



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السيوي, عادل; El Siwi, Adel

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[This essay deals with creativity and the imagination in their relationship with reality and logic. The space of the imaginary is conditioned by "the spirit of the age;" that is, how each age perceives and represents itself. Such a spirit has developed over centuries from primitive cave paintings to the computer screen. The author of the essay argues that it is the imagination that mediates between reason and madness in a manner that allows the artist to establish all kinds of illegitimate relationships between the ideal and the real. Reason is a concept defined by the group; madness on the other hand is any individual deviation from that collectively accepted norm. The artistic endeavor lies precisely in such deviations. However, it is argued that the structure of a painter's work is based on a unified visual concept and hence like any other unified and coherent structure it cannot be based on madness. For, in this case, even if the work appears to be mad, it will quickly reveal itself as a structure whose madness possesses its own logic. Such a logic is based on the spatial relationships represented on the canvas. It is for the beholder to discover those relationships which are present in both figurative and abstract art. The world of a painting is never completely severed from the outside world, rather it exhibits a complex and subtle relationship with it. Through the original reading of several prominent painters' work, the author investigates the relationship between madness and logic. He reads the madness in the paintings through the logic of the existing relations on the canvas. Among the works selected for analysis are: Pollock's Reflection of the Big Dipper; Rothko's Violet and Yellow on Rose; Al-Gazzar's The High Dam and The Green Fool; and Chagall's The Juggler. This piece is further enriched by its own style which throughout parodies the relation between the parts and the whole as one encounters them in a painting. Through his essay, the author highlights the role expected of both the beholder and the reader in constructing the world of the painting as well as the world of his text.]

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