Four Paintings by Poet Guy Beining
A 20th Century experimental painter such as Henri Matisse might paint a street differently and more fancifully than the streets and squares and churches of the Renaissance. The lines of the depiction might be naively curved and nonmechanical. The lines of each side of a street might get farther apart as they vanish into the distance rather than closer together. The colors might be whimsically altered and stars might appear all around the object depicted. In this way, Matisse and many other painters place their artworks in no “naturalistic” but rather a quantum or a timeless abstract, imaginative realm in which the barriers between the mechanical and the poetic have disappeared.
Beining’s pictures are of humanity from an anthropological perspective, without predisposition toward humanity’s value or worthlessness. In many ways, Beining’s portraiture of human reality is similar to German Expressionism. In content more than form, Max Beckmann’s famous painting The Night, with its cluttered pastiche of abuse and criminality, has the same philosophical resonance as Beining’s amorphous, indeterminate blobs. The theme of Beckmann’s paintings is inner structure in transition from the the religious to the philosophical. Though they patently don’t appear so, the people in Beckmann’s The Night are as unformed as those in Beining’s paintings. Much of German art at the beginning of the 20th Century is similar. In Brecht’s slapstick morality play, Threepenny Opera, the underworld characters sing such lines as, “Or is it only those that have the money/Can enter in the land of milk and honey?” And “So gentlemen do not be taken in/ Men live exclusively by mortal sin.”
Tom Hibbard has had recent work published in the Australian issue of Jacket, and the current issue of Moria. He also has a new collection of poetry, Sacred River of Consciousness, from Moon Willow press. He is currently involved in the political struggles in the U.S. and world against mindless far-right extremism.