“The leaves are falling, falling as from way off,
As though far gardens withered in the skies;
And yet there is one who holds this falling
Endlessly gently in his hands."
Was it the art screaming, or the artist?
Before reading the delights of Rodney Smith’s blog, I stared at his pictures, and tried earnestly to understand what the artist was declaiming. That his work was art was without doubt. That he was screaming out something through it and by it was also true, but exactly what that was would take a lot more thought, and perhaps, the assistance of a higher power.
The artist professed himself to be ‘proud’, but nothing of that spirit did I see in his work. Here was a screaming that was barely audible, coming from a face turned away, a face without feature, glancing forever away from the sharp forms and silhouettes and gestures that make the art itself so simultaneously perplexing and soothing. If the work were a book of sayings, I would entitle the whole - ‘Lamentations’.
A man stands in a field, a bowler hat on, hands in pockets, his long coat catching blades of corn. The light skies fume around him, but they do it sensitively and carefully, for they know this man has a kind soul, a gifted soul, and a talent for seeking out order in the chaos in front of him. The colours are grainy, the silhouette majestic. One can feel the ink of his hair touching the cool parchment of a cloud. In another, a photograph of stunning power that plays in my mind like a Bach symphony, this same masculine soul faces a wall, unaware of two streams of light that emanate from behind and before him. We want him to walk beneath the arch to his right, and into the sun, but his loyalty to form and beauty, to philosophy and gesture, keep him standing there for what seems like a whole chapter of history.
The artist is surely exposed in those fragile moments when the camera is lifted and the shutter closed for a split-second. He stands staring at his own back, and he starts to tell himself to keep on moving, walking against the corn, or towards the arches light, until a new shot can be admired and the world is set to rights again. Perhaps that is why his images are so alive.