Painting as language


I am doing MA-final work now in Art academy of Bergen, Norway and I have also written work to do, so I thought I post some parts from my written work (which is far from ready…) here and see if it gets any comments. My written text is about Painting as Language. here we go:

Words put together in agreed order forms a language. If we were to put the words in some non-agreed order we probably wouldn’t understand each other. Or if we were to meet a person who would speak our words put in chaotic order we would be probably call him crazy or a poet. In pictures the language is not so defined. We have lot of agreements globally and culturally linked, but generally the language in pictures is freer.
Rudolf Arnheim compares language and images in his essay “The reading of images and the images of reading” According to Arnheim Visual and written language are similar in a way they both depend on images, the way they both communicate is by crating images to the viewer. The difference comes in that the images created by words are indirect “ They are [images from written text] mental images deriving for the most part from direct perceptions that are gathered during the person’s life” Where as images created by visual arts are direct in a sense that they are, or they have the possibility to be direct visual perceptions. More differences appear when the artist’s task is not just in describing physical situations or actions but also in rendering the thoughts that distinguish human experience. Language has the ability to refer directly t concepts, such as “love”,”envy”, “ambition” etc. Whereas visual language is only equipped with shapes, and colors. In Arnheims essay he quotes Eugene Delacroix’s Journals which I site here also:” I confess my predilection for the silent arts, for those mute things of which Poussin said that they were his profession. Language is indiscreet, it goes after you, it solicits your attention and stirs up discussion. Painting and sculpture seem more dignified-one must seek them out…The work of the painter and the sculptor is all of a piece like works of nature. Its author is not present in it, he does not engage you like the writer or the orator. He offers reality that is somehow tangible, yet full of mystery.”
Nowadays of course one might disagree with Delacroix that the author of painting is not present in the work. Nevertheless it points out the different approaches of these two medias to the subject.

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