The Occult Dogon Egg of Arshile Gorky


I just finished the “Arshile Gorky: The implications of Symbols” by Harry Rand… I love color and I love paint that is why I love modernism.

This book has a number of little gems like, Gorky taught a class on camouflage. He was a master of camouflage, hidding his personal symbols in his work, also perhaps hiding art from our depraved and vapid culture.

Gorky created his own personal symbolic language. For a long time this concept fascinated me. I had read a bio about the musician Joni Mitchell and in it, she said that she was in touch with the symbols of her unconscious. For years this was my goal, to be in touch with the symbols of my unconscious… However that has since shifted… I got in touch with those symbols – it was not that hard. Reid

For me, this is not what abstraction is about. Abstraction is not abstracting language or ideas. Abstraction is the body and experience. It is the expression of the body and how paint and canvas create an effect from the body and on the body. How is my body is affected by a painting, how is my body is affected by your body mediated through paint?

I want art to be free… I want to be free to express myself and I want you to be free to have a reaction. I do not want any glamour or trickery. Painting itself, the surface design, is glamour… and that alone is the trick.

Symbolic language comes from the mind not the body. There is something of manipulation here… of the occult science of Edward Bernays and advertising and pr. What do you want me to feel? what are you causing me to feel? Why are you hiding of your feelings? The unconscious is hidden afterall.

There is something fascinating about hiding art within art. There is a long history of hiding knowledge… of hidden knowledge… and people have different reasons for wanting to do this. It is my belief that contemporary literary theory is intentionally opaque in order to hide something. Perhaps that is a generous reading. And in the act of unpacking what is hidden, the act of interpretation, a transformation occurs. What is hidden art? What is art in the 12th house? But this seems all based in the mind, and art for me is about the body.

Looking at these paintings of Gorky I am reminded of the Dogon egg in ATP by D&G in the chapter “Body without Organs” BwO. With the BwO, we go beneath the surface to the vectors and intensities that lie beneath… There is no more surface.

Rand mentions that Gorky’s objects are like Cloisonné… a method of inlaying enamel and gems. They are also like the BwO. In Gorky’s works there are no surfaces only potentials and intensities… the shadows of the symbols hidden (occulted) in his work.

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