Words That Change

Diary #50 – Structure, flow and a fine afternoon

In diary, essay on 4 April, 2010 at 21:13

Physicists have told us there are two ways of perceiving the universe. Particles and flow.

With flow you can contain it with lines and swoop it into arcs. There are ways to make a watcher’s eye trace a line you have made. You have defined their experience. Whatever opinions or impressions they may take away.

The other, less-noticed, principle is resonance. This follows the particular view. Resonance allows an artist to paint seemingly disparate forms, on opposite sides of a canvas but something ties them together – is it a shape, is it a congruency of colour, similarity of shading? There is something in the way that he or she has drawn that has excited a similar impulse in the brain and in this way tied the whole piece together.

Doubtless there will be flows between resonant particles, perhaps delineating what we intuitively know. Explaining our impulses to ourselves, and so the artist makes our lives plain.

And these forms, these shapes, these flows and resonances can be taking place in a fairly ordinary setting. Hence our fascination with Girls in Chairs and Bowls of Fruit. They have taken our perception and given it back to us. A rare gift to see the world a different way. The soul’s surfaces re-replicated in a different colour.


These ideas have been sparked off by a visit to the Hermitage, where they are showing off paintings contained in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, whose collection is so large they have a dozen satellite campuses around the world to show off the stuff they would otherwise have to keep in storehouses.

So I’ve been delighted by some Masters of which Kandinsky thrilled the most. I was told that he would by a Spanish colleague: “You won’t need more than an hour, after that you lose it” It took me 50 minutes.

And my. What shapes. Kandinsky’s eruption is accompanied by a note which states:

“Kandinsky believed that there were three forms of abstraction: impression, or the processing of observations and effects, improvisation, which appeared suddenly and unconsciously, and finally composition, the ‘highest synthesis of consciousness, intuition, experience and emotion’. The artist regarded himself as a medium who channelled the form of an art work from a higher force.”*

The need for structure and a livingness is now laid plain. In some way my little book  will have a way of resonating between particles of observation – each of these being rich in themselves but reverberating through the whole to tie it together.

Pulling it off will be another trick.

PS The mist has cleared to be replaced by bright rays of sun. But you knew that, didn’t you.

Matisse’s Dancers taken from Li-Xin Li’s web page.

Thanks to

Thanks to Li-Xin Li's remarkable web page for this picture


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