Monday, October 31, 2011

Renewed vision

One sadness of Palmer's life was the fading of his vision after his time at Shoreham. His art dimmed in assurance and in its capacity to shimmer in transcendence as his confidence was challenged by feeling the need, and failing, to connect with contemporary taste. Like his beloved Blake, Palmer never achieved meaningful recognition in his lifetime. Unlike Blake, his vision did falter in response.

Yet only faltered, rather than disappeared, and was recovered in his final years in two projects, both illustrative and in dialogue with poetic masters: Milton and Virgil.

Of which 'The Lonely Tower' is one example (of the Milton series): a dialogue not with his contemporaries but with master practitioners of a traditional past to which Palmer was heir. It reminds me that any artistic practice is embedded in an ongoing conversation - fortunate is the artist who finds that amongst his contemporaries but there are other sources against which to test your truths (and your talents). Palmer, as did Blake, found them in past truth tellers - both artistic and poetic.

The above captures Palmer's mastery of twilight, sun setting releasing starlight, and pastoral tasks falling into place and giving space to contemplation in the transition of day to night, light to mystery.

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