NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 50

Consider , by way of example , the inchoate spectral of light that signifies the appearance of Christ in the Visions drawing series of the 19th Century Belgian painter , James Ensor , which became the precursor to his effort to demonstrate the relationship between personal meaningfulness and social responsibility achieved in his 1889 monumental painting , Christ ’ s Entry into Belgium ( Jerusalem ). While Christ may have been the subject of the painting , his entrance into Brussels as principal figure is nearly obscured by the foregrounding of the chaotic Mardi Gras exuberance of an incongruent celebratory mass of allegorical and caricaturized humanity that includes Magisterial Officials and Rogues , masked demonic figures and clowns . Beyond the aura of a triumphant communal event , the work demands the viewer to discover , in between the tension of emerging and not emerging , a personal apperception of its beneficence , as the visual cues reshape relationships that create a dynamic transformation for the viewing community . In addition , the viewer will have witnessed the emergence of 20th Century Expressionism .
Perhaps also consonant with the Heidegger paradigm is the work of Jacob Lawrence , who has referred to his practice as being “ dynamic cubism ,” albeit influenced directly through the rhythmic dynamics of hard-edged shapes and luminous colors in Harlem , eschewing even the slightest conscious mimesis of the Expressionist Art in Europe . In many of the panels of his Great Migration series — the 1940s exodus of blacks from the agricultural South to the industrial North — the rhythm of flat , un-individuated , featureless figures laced with vibrant colors that dovetail with an angular backdrop of light and shadow , provided the background with a potential to overtake the primary , featureless , images for prominence , forging a dynamic between the figure and ground that prevents the experiential field from becoming the static narrative of verisimilitude representation .
Similarly , the large canvases of Oliver Lee Jackson also configures color and inchoate figures rhythmically floating in a motile space , or otherwise a visual matrix that betrays the constraints of a grid , creating a dynamic tension between figure / ground relationships that challenges the viewer / witness to perceive concrete meaning . When the viewer / witness is resonated by the inchoate signs of familiar experience , the mode reveals itself with coherent images refigured in the consciousness of the viewer / witness who shares in the revelation of what is and what matters collectively . The beauty of great artwork , according to Heidegger , is its ability to resurrect the implicit ontology and collective vision that allows an historical community to understand itself and its world .
Without any artificial deference to African Art , Jackson , among many contemporary African Diasporic artists , such as Norman Lewis , Romare Bearden , Betye Saar , Sam Middleton , Thornton Dial , Horace Pippin , Barbara Chase-Riboud , Ed Clark , and the Guyanese / British painter , Frank Bowling , has been able to reveal the traumas and revelries of the black experience without Art becoming an imitation of Life , constructing non-representational images that eschew fixed , linear relationships that reduce history to pathos or caricature in representational replications , thereby conceiving work on a monumental scale that accords the African Diasporic viewer an opportunity to retrieve a worldview without navigating the constraints of familiar social narratives .
Bolstered by my discovery of the significance of how inchoate parts in an experiential field contributed to the concreteness of a whole image released me from concern with Freudian dualistic principles that atomized human behavior into conscious vs . subconscious , or one-to-one linear relationships of cause and effect , liberating me from theatrical expositions arrested in Realism . In addition , my inquiry into performing art was deepened by the fact that Heidegger was antagonistic toward the values of “ art for art sake ” and was loathed to separate art from politics , philosophy or any social movements that shaped history , which encouraged me toward pursuits that would reconcile my personal angst of displacement , so as to make my passage in the world intelligible .