Painting, the Early Years

By Greg McGee

Painting, the Early Years

Here's one for you. Prehistoric Art.

What compelled the early people to paint themselves on the walls of their caves? Too dark for decoration, the caves weren't just homes in which to function but sanctuaries where magic was made.

Painting a person conjures them into being, in a setting more sophisticated or pleasing than the Ice Age outside allowed. In that sense, Prehistoric Art is the earliest demonstration of the Law of Attraction as seen in that wildly successful celebration of Self help, 'The Secret' (you know the one).

Our distant ancestors obviously contemplated their role in the Universe: fearful of predators? Hungry for prey? Bewildered by the sensual pleasure of cool running water on a hot day? Depicting these aspects of existence as Art not only allows ownership, it actually feels like a magic spell, and entreats the subjects to materialise. More than a magic spell, perhaps - Art as a Prayer. 

Such is the redemptive power of pictures and, of course, Art. If anything is Art (and it isn't, but continue), Prehistoric Art is just that. The functional, politically provocative, or even beautiful aspects that have evolved are subordinate to celebrating what it is to think progressively about where you might fit in, especially in the dark times. 

Art from 60,000 years ago can most definitely give much of the noisy, glib, tediously provocative art from 1988 onwards a good kick in the pants. That's the juicy presence of Paint, you see.

Don't listen to what the myopic modern theorists say. Painting is Alive and is more relevant than ever.
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