Monday, May 4, 2015

The Beautiful Soul

Rhodes smelled of dry grass and the sea. A steady lull of air swept quietly over the island from the Aegean. The landscape was sun-swept, tranquil; the light intense and vivid, as if objects were plucked from the world and sharpened with new tones and textures, somehow more real and immediate then those back home. I felt that Michael was in his element there; he was thin, tanned, tall, with wide blue eyes and light brown hair. He was forty-four but athletic in movement and expression. His voice was always on the upswing; it was inquiring, always beckoning a response. His laughter was giddy and free, his attitude joyful and light. Something in his eyes gave me a strong sense of my own presence.
After my freshman year at college, I jumped on a flight to Rhodes, Greece, to stay at the studio of an artist whom I had met online. Michael Newberry is a painter and thoughtful commentator on art, who needed help creating an art foundation to advocate for the cause of innovate representational artists.

"Representational" is something of a clinical word for artists passionate about the world they see around them - people, places, objects, shimmering with beauty and light; those excited by the power of their senses to perceive the world, and challenged by the means and methods required to reproduce it in a complex and unique way.

The summer I spent in Greece inspired me to write a short piece about the experience. The result, which I posted as an introduction to an online archive of Michael's work (that I also assembled), has become the premise for my next book.

The book, tentatively titled The Beautiful Soul: Innovative Artists in a Postmodern World, will be an essay on the struggle of innovative artists in an art culture largely turned off to their work. We will follow Michael's career, college training in expressionist art, and break free into a self-taught representational style. We will follow the struggles of other artists set against the evolution of the postmodern art world. We will digress to understand the history of art, innovative techniques in painting and composition. We will reflect on the philosophical nature of art and the historical origin of the world we see around us.

It will be a biography, a monograph of brilliant work, a polygraph of culture, a personal journey of discovery, and a challenge to open our eyes to the creative output of our time.

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