Artist Statement

James H. Vredevoogd
My work has had one common theme since I returned to painting in the eighties from nearly ten years of doing and teaching Performance Art. That theme is the recognition of what R. Buckminster Fuller called “event aggregates” as our only perceivable reality. Modern physics has shown us that there is not a single solid object in the universe. The entire cosmos is in transition. One could say, as Fuller suggested, the word cosmos itself is a verb rather than a noun. It is how we perceive as well as what we perceive.Ken Wilber in his paper :  “In the eye of the artist: Art and the Perennial Philosophy” wrote the following; “According to the perennial philosophy the common mystical core of the world’s great spiritual traditions—men and women possess at least three different modes of knowing: the eye of flesh, which discloses the material, concrete, and sensual world; the eye of mind, which discloses the symbolic, conceptual, and linguistic world; and the eye of contemplation, which discloses the spiritual, transcendental, and transpersonal world. These are not three different worlds, but three different aspects of one world disclosed by different modes of knowing and perceiving. The first realm made visible to the eyes of perception is composed of sensibilia, phenomena that can be perceived by the body. The second realm is composed of intelligibilia, or objects perceived by the mind. The third realm consists of transcendelia, or objects perceived by the soul and spirit. These three overall realms, from matter/body to ego/mind to soul/spirit, are collectively referred to in various contemplative traditions as the Great Chain of Being”.

However, much earlier in Ireland, James Joyce in “A portrait of the Artist as a young Man”, drawing on Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, has his stand in, Steven Daedalus state “Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end”.  “Truth, he states, is beheld by the intellect which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the intelligible. Beauty is beheld by the imagination, which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the sensible.
The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure, a spiritual state very like to that cardiac condition which the Italian physiologist Luigi Galvani, using a phrase almost as beautiful as Shelly’s, called the enchantment of the heart.”

Joyce’s four books can be looked at as representing those Minds, spoken of by the philosopher Ken Wilber above, in a succession beginning with “Dubliners” and ending with “Finnegan’s Wake”. The Wake itself is an example of how a many layered reality, joyfully perceived by a man, might be constructed in time and space. His was a mind that points the way, if we are to evolve as humans and as artists, to his level of perception.

My function then, is to make esthetic unity out of the chaos of the visible world, which includes what science has been able to present to us, from the Hubble telescope to the electron microscope to the “cabbages and kings” of everyday reality. Science has expanded our knowledge immensely in what we are able to perceive, both the “sensible” and the “intelligible” aspects of it. So, as an artist, I am free to draw from, that is, to compose, the past with the present, the sacred with the profane, the unseen (intuited) with the seeable, the conscious with the unconscious, symbolism with metaphor, and to celebrate my being alive in such a marvelous time and place. My paintings then are not an “imitation” of reality, they are an intimation of reality. They are clues to an a priori mystery.

That is why I admire the work of such artists as Salvador Dali, Rene’ Magritte, MC Escher, and James Rosenquist as well as the writings of Carl Jung, Marie Louise Von Franz, Joseph Campbell, James Joyce, Jose Arguelles, Fritjof Capra, Julian Jaynes, Robert Bly, Margaret Atwood and others that are on the path, the only path that matters.

James Vredevoogd  2011