‘Each one of us, not only human beings but every leaf, every weed, exists in the way it does, only because everything else around it does. The individual and the universe are inseparable. We are all connected and interdependent.’
Alan Watts, ‘Lectures’, 1982
How do the words by the influential, British philosopher, writer and speaker Watts apply to Art and Artists? Could it be true that all Artists are connected? Are the artists the only evangelist of collective unconciousness? I think that’s something worth investigating.
Carl Jung described ‘collective unconscious’ as a source that each of us carries within us, where all of our choices, behaviors and fears come from. It is a ‘hidden voice’ that only artist have the courage to allow to speak out loud.
It should not come as a surprise if I told you that many artists are ambassadors of ‘collective memory’. They use art to tell stories about personal and cultural memory that are open to interpretation, that reframe the past not as a fixed narrative but as a multiplicity of voices from diverse points of view. But art does only refer to past, to the universal values that are timeless themes such as love, true, life, death, freedom but also to the emotions of a given moment in time, ‘the here and now’.
(c) Henrik A. Uldalen, Mural In Oostende, Belgium
I decided to share with you something that has recently impressed me a lot. During my recent online ‘fishing for an intriguing topic’, I came to know that the contemporary artist are not only connected to those from the past (for example to ‘old masters’ such as Bosch, Breughel, Da Vinci or Vermeer), but more importantly, trough sharing the same ‘contemporary times’, some of them seem to be entwined with one another. Despite of living thousands of miles away, the artists are still sharing the same ‘global village reality’, where Social Media plays a role a Babel Tower. Without leaving their ateliers, studios and houses, artist ‘gather’ and meet on Instagram, Twitter or other platforms using the same, international language of Art.
There is no deny that the Internet makes the world we all live in, smaller than ever before.
After analyzing the works of two artists, living in different countries, coming from different cultural background, but having, in my opinion, incredibly a lot in common, I felt inspired to explore the term of ‘collective consciousness in art’ by looking closely to thei paingings and photographs each of them created.
(c) Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Reverie’
The two, self-thought artist, that I’ve been fascinated with, are the Norwegian figurative painter Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen (1986) and German Fine Art Photographer Gabriele Viertel (1969), living in The Netherlands. Just to remind you – I visited Gabriele several times during my business trips to the Netherlands, Eindhoven and wrote about her works couple of months ago on my blog. You could find my previous works on her art using this link.
(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘The Venus Blues’, 2017
What stroke me most, when I started to compare the artworks of both artist, was that while using different visual mediums (painting and photography), they seem to have the same goal, that is to take the onlooker by the hand to exactly the same mysterious and dark place. A place that makes one get ‘those goosebumps’ and doubt the power of own perception.
By presenting their stunning models in a gothic, underwater, surrealistic environment, the artists are touching the important and universal topics such as: a fine line between life and death, memory and the loss of it, beauty that is a fragile thing, disappearing to soon, unexpectedly, drowning forever in the depths of blurry water of the time.
(c) Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Flutter’
(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘Dance Macabre’, 2017
I’ve been amazed to realize that Viertel and Uldalen, without actually knowing each other in reality, seem to lead an artistic dialogue ‘beyond borders’, as if their minds were unconsciously linked. It almost feels as if they were ‘brother and sister’, with the same roots and similar experiences from the past, with the same, incredible sensitivity. There is no deny that the things we get to ‘hear’ through their artworks are said loud and clear, without using any words.
(c) Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Efflux’
(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘Narcissa’, 2017
(c) Henrik A. Uldalen
(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘Dance Macabre’, 2017
When I saw the surrealistic works of Uldalen and recent works of Viertel, they brought to my synesthetic mind stunningly beautiful Kylie Minogue immersed in water, who for the purpose of the video has been turned into the Elise Day. Whenever I see the video recorded more than 10 years ago, in 1996, where the Australian singer was ‘the innocent angel, the virgin wearing white dress’, bathed in beauty like a glazing fire, I feel shivers down my spine.
The song that I’ve got in mind is, of course, is ‘Where Wild Roses Grow’. There is no deny that this particular song shall forever remain forever imprinted in the history of music. The unique combination of the ‘dark’ voice of Nick Cave and angelic attributes of Kylie Minogue are simply impossible to forget.
(c) Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Astray’
It was quite astonishing to me, when I noticed that both Uldalen and Viertel in their work were successful in bringing to mind the same powerful emotions that appear while one is listening to the overwhelming ballad from ’90. The artists masterfully merge the ethereal, otherworldly beauty with the vision of the slowly approaching death, as if they were singing along with Nick Cave:
‘On the last day I took her where the wild roses grow
And she lay on the bank, the wind light as a thief
And I kissed her goodbye, said, “All beauty must die”
And lent down and planted a rose between her teeth’
(c) Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Vacate’
(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘The Bath Of The Venus’, 2017
I like to imagine that if Elise Day was real, if she lived in our times, before she’d go to the river with her insane lover The Murderer, on the last day of her life, she’d contact Viertel and Uldalen first and ask them to freeze her beauty for all eternity. Don’t you think that the vision of her face, captured on a photograph or canvas, could possibly stop the one who was born ‘beneath angry star’ from the unforgiven deed?
‘They call me The Wild Rose
But my name was Elisa Day
Why they call me it I do not know
For my name was Elisa Day’
(c) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Kyle Minogue, ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’, 1996
P. S. If you would like to listen to the song mentioned in this post – please click here
To learn more about the Art of Gabriele Viertel please visit her offical website.
Using this link you could learn more about the Art of Henrik A. Uldalen