Saturday, January 20, 2007


"Jerusalem", 1960, by Thomas Merton
(image size: 4 1/4"h x 6 1/2"w)

"A prophet is one who cuts through great tangled knots of lies." August 6, 1960

Notes from Roger Lipsey:

Merton surrounded his visual art with as many walls, trip wires, and rabbit traps as he could think of to keep interpreters away. The images are not "drawing of", he said. They are "summonses to awareness" but "not to awareness OF." In case we still miss the point, he insisted that "their 'meaning' is not to be sought on the level of convention or of concept" and "there is no need to categorize these marks." They are "signatures of someone who is not around". In other words, no interpretation is appropriate and no artist is available for discussion. This is the situation as we approach the engaging task of interpreting his art. We are unwelcome.

... His image of Jerusalem is a labyrinth, perhaps reflecting impressions from the distance - he never visited the Holy Land - of narrow streets and stone houses in the old quarters of the city. Looking closely in his "streets," one may also see living things: a figure crouched in prayer, a rooster, who knows what else. The work is not completely realized, it is more sketch than finished work, but its pulsing rhythm and deft handling of geometry are promising ...

("Angelic Mistakes - the art of Thomas Merton", by Roger Lipsey, p. 43)

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