Thursday, 9 July 2015

Steven Schwarz- The Raggamuffin Man

At a snails pace might be the best way to describe this post. I first spoke with Steven via e-mail back in October 2013. I had long admired his work, primarily as an artist but also appreciated he was a man of many talents. I first came across his work when trawling the internet. There are a great many talented people out there with many found languishing in the ether. Steven is not one for languishing anywhere. You see, not only does he paint but also write's, record's music and is a dab hand at poetry. He also appeared in the Harrison Ford film 'Raider's of the Lost Arc' as a film extra playing the part of a German soldier. Not bad for a guy who hits sixty this year.

What I like about the man, his paintings to one side, is his innate sense of self-deprecation. He does not appear to take very much seriously. Not himself at any rate.

"Self-styled "unemployed pantheist, provocative iconoclast, abusive solipsist, and failed psychopath", Cosmic Rapture has "been there, done that," and along the way "picked up a few strangelings, bizzaritudes and peculiaritisms."
He has written on three and a half continents -- lately in Australia, surrounded by gum-trees and funnelweb spiders.
With no visible means of support other than an over-inflated ego, he continues to defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics, leanings towards chaos notwithstanding."

When I asked him how he would describe his art he answered in a manner I found odd. Not because what he said was even remotely of that nature but rather how like my response to what I do it was. It was like hearing your thoughts, your words, put onto paper and somehow reflected back at you from another source, a far better, more succinct source it has to be said...

"I'm very ambivalent about my creativity and about art in general: 
I'm very ambivalent about art. Painting, for example: in one sense is nothing more than arranging molecules of matter upon a surface so that light reflects off the surface into the eye of an observer and produces electrical currents in the observer's brain. Is that any kind of job for a grown man or woman?
To keep it simple let's focus on painting / drawing: an encoding of data inherent in the non-accidental arrangement of molecules of matter upon a two-dimensional surface, such that light striking the surface is reflected into the photon-modulating apparatus ("eyes") of sacks of carbon-based matter, which apprehend the inherent encoding (look at the artwork) and explicitly catalyse paradigmatic information-content (and find meaning in it), yadda yadda yadda
I often have to force myself to paint: I really would prefer to engage directly with Reality, rather than at arm's length, with a paintbrush at the end of it. I really would prefer to create and see meaning directly, rather than through the filter of human culture, of which art is a part, but never apart."

I see no ambiguity whatsoever. What I see challenges many perception's, fuels in me the viewer to sort the range of emotions that flow as I look upon his work into some semblance of rational thought but there is nothing vague of ambiguous about the physical art at all.

It strikes me as of being tactile. I want to to place my hand on the above painting to see if all those canyons and crevasses are actually as ridged as they appear. There is depth here. Not necessarily in  the motive behind creating the piece in the first place, that seems more intuitive, but in the manner in which the artist puts paint onto brush then seemingly layers it to give it that three-dimensional effect. It is earthy. It is of dun lands, and brown lands and the bareback bony fighting for existence green grass hidden in dry lands. Rich as a tapestry. A narrative unfolds like the dreaming of the man in the outback. The dreaming man communicating with his gods, with his nature, his soul, himself and all that exists.

Steven wasn't born an Aussie. He sort of became one back in 1989. He was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, South Africa. I wonder, as we have never spoken, which accent he has? The clipped vernacular of the Dutch Afrikaans or the matey boy, almost Londonish, sound of the Australian. Little details perhaps but still of interest.  

"My "day job" has mainly been in corporate communications. I've lied and spun and hyped with the best and worst of them. These days I'm not gainfully employed other than some bits and pieces of freelance writing/editing. Therefore, I'm "focusing on my creativity" for want of anything else to do!"

From these works, buried deep in the fabric of the waft and weave, are faces, faces from a strange place but very human. They too remind me of the 'dreaming,' that time when one sits contemplating in utter silence the substance of life, of living. Dark and light sit side by side as family members in these fragmentary moments distilled from a deeper dialogue,  a listening process as much as a thinking one. Heart, hands and head seeking the inner and outer process of what it is to be alive within an increasingly complex universe. In many ways they carry the echo of the palimpsest in that they feel as though they have been painted over many times, as though they are part and parcel of an ongoing process; a discovery of sorts be it personal or observational. 

"What is Music, exactly? In one direction it's an encoding of data inherent in a temporally sequenced, explicitly non-accidental series of sound waves of varying frequency, wavelength, waveform, duration and loudness striking the sound-wave-modulating apparatus ("ears") of ambulatory sacks of carbon-based matter ("people")."

I find this statement strange at first, cold, too cerebral, reductive but the more I think about it the more I start to think it bears some truth. We make much of music, at least, I do, and perhaps intellectualise something so everyday to extraordinary levels. And let's face it, there is nothing worse than pseudo-intellectuals.

There is music in Steven's paintings as much as there is lyrical quality too. Both of these other forms can be found in his other works. I also believe there are moments of autobiography here, moments when self-portraiture is captured in essence only while that too is weaved within the whole grainy texture of what is to me a textile experience as much as it is of paint.

Finding Steven is not hard. He is out there somewhere. He is also found on Facebook and the blog sphere. Here are some links to his work....

This so-called "book" will chew you up, spit you out, and leave you twitching and frothing on the carpet. More than 60 dark and feculent fictions (read ‘em and weep) copiously illustrated by over 20 grotesque images you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

We all hate poetry, right? But we might make an exception for this sick and twisted stuff. A devil's banquet of adults-only offal featuring more than 50 satanic sonnets, vitriolic verses and odious odes.

Over 180 quirky quotes marshalled into 8 meme armies. A disturbing if not downright annoying repository of miscellaneous misbegotten malarkey.

MASTRESS & OTHER TWISTED TAILS, ILLUSTRATED*: an unholy corpus of strangelings, bizarritudes and peculiaritisms

FIENDS AND FREAKS*: Adults-only Tails of Dragons, Devils, Hell-beings, Anguished Spirits, Gods, Anti-gods and Other Horse-thieves You Wouldn't Want to Meet in a Dark Kosmos

HAGS TO HAGGIS*: Tales of Whiskey and War-nags, Manticores and Escapegoats, Debottlenecking and Desilofication
"My Main Blog: Cosmic Rapture. Being going since 2008. Contains a mix of fiction, poetry and feature articles, especially on pantheism, personhood, consciousness and related subjects. My Art blog is A SITE FOR SAW EYES: "

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

1 comment:

masterymistery said...

Great post, even if I say so myself! Thanks Russell, for helping to foist this work upon an unsuspecting blogosphere. Your Wayward Ways certainly lead to some strange and puzzling places.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog