Timelessness is something that is recognized. It is hard to explain. It is not something that I have learned to seek out, it was not taught to me. It is something that comes naturally.
The idea that art must be of its time is prevalent in most minds and I believe it to be true. Art can be useful this way, it can be witty and ironic, and make clever statements about our time. This computer generated art piece can only be understood in relation to the time in which it was created. To me, this is art.
Not in My Class You Don't by Wizbo, digital media, variable dimensions.
Painting, as I use it, has a different purpose. I use my own painting as an example. This one is called Backing into the Future. It speaks in a more universally understandable language. It needs less introduction. The simplest, most understandable form for me, is the one most human, filled with life.
Backing Into the Future by Brandon Kralik, oil on panel, 24 x 18 cm.
I am intrigued about the connection I have to what can be called other times. There have been special moments in my life when I have felt that there is no difference between then and now, that the two points in time are somehow connected. Rather than points on a line as I often saw it, they might actually be bumping up against each other. Quantum physics has leaked into our previous realities. The feeling that the summer is both long and short, that we just did this... 10 years ago, or the similarities between me and my father and his father, as we live through the ages are so pronounced that I feel suspended, a bit elsewhere, and everywhere. I enjoy that feeling. I enjoy paintings that address this for me.
The whole idea of timelessness is beyond words and that is why I prefer to explore the concept through my paintings but then, examples of this idea comes to mind and I return to the keyboard to share them with you.
My father would tell me hunting tales from when he was my age, when we were seven. His father would also tell stories around the same campfire, of how he and his twin brother had tracked rabbits when they were seven, and the feeling I had was that we were all the same. We had all been seven, and had mothers and fathers and adventures. Some of the adventures they had, I had as well, and so did other friends I met along the way. We slept out under the stars and woke up to the dawn each day. We killed our first animals with the weapons that our fathers had given us and we shoved stalks of wheat between our teeth and smiled. People grow up and become adults and fall in love, couple up and they make children. This is at the core of the human experience. The cycle of life. That was eternal and that was timeless to me. Before I ever considered the concept of timelessness, I recognized it. When I read of the American Indians or of the explorers who discovered themselves at the far ends of the earth it was already somehow familiar.
Here is another example of how I came to form my idea of timelessness.
I once lived in Alaska on a sailboat. It had been my girlfriend's idea to save money and it worked. I lived on that boat for three years. Nearly as soon as we moved onto the small Buccaneer Bayliner, basically an oversized bleach bottle, frozen into its stall in Aurora harbor, she went out for cigarettes and never came back. More or less. She ran off to follow the Renaissance fair with the flute maker, so, for me, it was a long, olive oil freezing winter and I spent most of my time in my studio, above Taco Bell and at the coffee shop.
While having coffee I began to notice a woman there, smiling the most peaceful, sincere smile. She was not particularly pretty, but she was beautiful, all wrapped in last years clothing, a homemade hat over her long black hair, gloves with the fingers cut off and her eyes just sparkling. She was Alaskan, a Tlingit native. When I looked at her she sometimes looked like a woman, sometimes like a girl. Sometimes she looked like a very old woman and I could not place an age on this smiling creature. She looked like an Edward Sheriff Curtis photograph.
This went on for some time and one day, as I sat writing in my journal she came over to my table smiling and carefully set a poem there that she had written. It was about how she experienced time, not how she thought about it, but how she felt it in her bones and in her wings.
It was about a crow and a wise old woman, who was born into the body of a young girl. The young girl was wise beyond her years and the crow recognized this and alerted the girl. The poem was so well written, and revealed truths about our nature, about wisdom and our relation to the ancient myths, which some of the Tlingit people are still aware of, that it suspended me from my tiny, little place in time. It forced me to grow to encompass the ideas it presented.
What was interesting was that I could not tell how old this wise, little poet was. She was beyond classification, like a great painting, and I feel that she had something, a gift, a wisdom beyond her years. If I had the paintings I did of her then, they might look as if they were painted centuries ago, perhaps in Mongolia, Tibet or maybe at Auke Bay. The expression of calm knowing on her face and the understanding that time is an illusion was, and is, the feeling I call timeless, even though they were painted above Taco Bell. Would a Taco Bell bag or sauce packet make such a painting better? Without having to think about it I can honestly answer, "I think not".
Classical painting can be used, just as digital art can be used to express an idea that is rooted in our time. It can also be used to convey a feeling of timelessness and when it is used in this way, I tend to get the most out of it. Personally.
It is not that I want to live in the past, that is not it at all. I am perfectly content in my time, the best of all times. I prefer thinking about it as bringing the best of the past with me into the future. I draw upon my experiences, literally, and paint my future with them.
Most paintings that I love are recognized before I have a chance to think about them. I recognize something of myself in them and I am forced to grow, to expand my conscious to some degree to take them in.
Paintings are at their best, beautiful labors of love, and love and beauty are two of those things that expand exponentially as they weave themselves through the ages in a timeless fashion.