Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

An essay by Annette Lodge 2008

In a visual hungry world, illustration is a transient visitor that meanders between being meaningful and amazing to being fashionable and banal.

When is illustration art? When is art illustration?
These are vexing questions that critics like to debate when they have nowhere else to go and which inevitably lead to prickly and incoherent conclusions. Generally, high brow proponents of abstract thought believe illustration has no place in the sacred world of art and yet, without images to transport us to that holy ground, we are left floundering inside the plasticity of a concept without a story.
Illustration is the magic beneath the narrative. It lurks in the shadows, ready to transport the recipient beyond words and into the dialect of a new language. It is only when this dialect resonates enough to stir our souls that illustration can truly be art.

In a cultural climate that seems intent on exclaiming loudly that techno-science is the new force of creativity, it may be time to take a breath and allow the art, the image, the idea, the essence, the subtext to imbed themselves back into our souls, rather than the razzle dazzle of technology. It may be time to look back rather than forward, inside rather than outside and heed the warning of Friedrich Nietzsche who concluded that the human race would evolve not through science and technology but through art and play.

Wise people have known this for some time: It is impossible not to be awe struck by the image of the massive rainbow serpent painted onto rock by Aboriginal artists 20,000 years ago, or the Nazca geoglyphs etched into the earth in Peru 2000 years ago, or the journeys to other worlds, captured in pictures that adorned the tombs of the pharaohs 4000 years ago. Such is the power of the narrative image.

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