Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Beyond

The long stretch of haunted beach is, in fact, a spit - an attenuated gravel bar which contains a large lake. The lake is fairly shallow, but it's still possible to row across it, although it isn't advised. Over the years the lake has become a very dark place, filled with dead fish, decaying eels, the carcasses of cattle, a place to dispose of things ... the edges are marshy, ill-defined, it's easy to sink down into them, down, down ... the miasma that lingers creates unease, dis-ease, hovering above the mire. The vaporous atmosphere plays games, a liquid sky which refracts the light, creating all manner of effects ... reminding one of the difference between the Venetians and the Florentines, and how the misty atmosphere of Venice ripples through the art of that luscious lacustrine city, a place of optical illusion, atmospheric legerdemain ... And then here, in the light, on the lake, there are apparitions. Boats, figures, presences, then melting into that strange nothingness that hovers over the lake. Another image in mind, Bocklin's Isle of the Dead, from 1880, the first of his five incarnations of this same scene, itself an evocation of another place ... and now hanging here, in the air, fantastic, phantasmatic ...


2 comments:

foldedletters said...

I knew this picture looked familiar to me. This painting is in an iconography book I own. One of my favorites. Isn't this about death? or is it exile? I can't remember To me it's symbolic of our deepest selves, that only we can reach. The parts no one else can find nor visit.

jacky bowring said...

The enigma of the image is laced with the symbolic and the metaphysical. It is a painting which was also influential on de Chirico, the white figure in the boat is echoed in some of his work, extending the feelings of loss, and yes, the mystery of the self.