1900 - 1955
|I Await You|
I think Tanguy was obsessed with painting the symbolic modes and contents of the hippocampus. He was about going down, via intuition, into consciousness. As far as you can go into the substratum. And then he painted what he found there.
The hippocampus is a region of confluence and extrusion. Flooding across the threshold of that organ are impressions of phenomena that then get sifted into emotional and functional perceptions. I think Tanguy's art happens on that threshold. One eye is trained on the phenomenal, the other on its becoming transposed into affective and proto-conceptual forms (in other words, spiritized).
But these intuited concretions are not representations of phenomena and perception. Rather, Tanguy's ambiguous shapes within uncertain environments are images of organic/mental strangeness, symbols of deep interior happening. They are intuitions into paint of the numinous and the bizarre lurking within or behind phenomena and perception. The mysteriousness of being actual trembles in his painted visions.
It's more than surrealism. This is an audacious science of mental objects.
Some yogis yammer about higher consciousness. About aspiring on the spiritual pathway to knowledge and truth. Toward and into the super-real. But maybe the truth of things lies implicit in the lower depths, the infernal zones. Where only art of a certain genius can reach, explore, and make symbolically manifest.
Most religion and mysticism are about trying to find God out there and up there, in some transcendent beyond. And trying to take the pulse of the Other, of the Absolute. About the soul adrift, desiring harbor and anchor. But maybe the sea and soul are the same. Something like Atman. Or Schopenhauer's Will. Perhaps the noumenal and the phenomenal flow together as an immanence that can be intuited as happening deep within the hippocampus. Maybe Tanguy has given us visions of that "lower" profoundest space of spiritized being. Granted, it is a disturbing zone, where the enigma of time is apprehended and made hyper-peculiar.
A lot of art is about superficial representation or expressive distortion of the world. Or about angsty egoism amid shapes of experience. Schopenhauer held art to a higher standard: to be the quiet "ground" upon which the hidden depths of things might appear, and as a metaphysical refuge from the horror of the situation.
Yves Tanguy opened up environments of the silent elemental. Panoramas of substance as brooding metaphor. He went far beyond the other Surrealists. His work is existential mysticism on artistic peyote.