The relationship between Beauty and the Sublime
has been a subject of philosophical discourse since the Greeks and Plato. Is
Beauty an object or an attribute? Where does it fit into culture and art?
The Sublime is more comprehensible for built within the definition is the
‘incomprehensible.’ The sublime is beyond our understanding. It rides just
above the ken of ordinary mortals. It is embodied in the grotesque, seeps
through into our dreams and, like the colossus, has its head in the clouds.
I grew poppies in my garden at The High Farm above Fintry where I lived for
twenty years. The original seeds were imported from my mother’s garden in
Saskatchewan. Today, six years after the house at the High Farm burnt down,
the poppies still grow. They are a burn of vivid red beside the charred
remains of the house. I caught them at the end of the season this year. I
painted the last blooming poppy and contemplated beauty and the sublime.
Beauty is embodied in the poppy. I highlighted the glowing red and played up
the brilliance against the velvety black streak down the petal’s center. I
set the poppy against images of the sublime – twisted lizards (an image I
return to often - originally gleaned from a small bronze sculpture in the
Correre Museum in Venice, Italy), a mummified raccoon’s frightening visage
and a sleeping fox. The fox is my personal animal, small, energetic and
clever - with red hair. Drowsy under the blowing poppy, the fox dreams a
sublime opiate dream.