Red Cow and Chinese Pony, Cave Art, Lascaux, France
I’ve been inspired by the cave art at Lascaux (France) and the dawn of Art for a very long time.
The first time I saw a reproduction of cave art paintings, my heart stopped, as if déjà vu, as if I’d been there, done that and became aware of this knowing for the first time.
It was before Google, Perhaps I saw the image in The National Geographic, known for vivid color photography and stories of far away places.
I felt moved more deeply than I ever felt when I first experienced the majesty of stained glass windows in a church.
I think often about the artists who made the paintings in the caves. I try to put myself back in time and become one of those artists. I think of the drive it took and the passion behind the strong desire to express the wonders of the every-day world about them. I think of the hours spent in watching the world and the thinking…. I imagine a person watching the horses graze and move about, loving the sweet line of the neck or the rump, the movement of the feet, the switching of a tail – and the artist sketching those things with a stick in the dirt, over and over again, putting it all together a thousand times, trying to get it right.
I also think about the discovery of pigment. What a day that must have been! Huge deposits of yellow ochres and red earths – free for the taking. A deep black made from charred wood, from the cookfire.
I’ve often wondered if those long-ago artists painted on exposed rocks on earth surface – and were perhaps enormously disappointed when, in a few years time, the paintings were washed away by rain and wind.
I wonder why and how and under what circumstances those artists took it all to the caves. Had they discovered that the caves were protection against the weather? Was it an act of humility, to go into the dark caves and express the wonder of the universe in the form of paintings on the wall? Did they have the sense that they were preserving their paintings for future generations to read – as if sending a message?
Was an artist’s painting in a cave similar to having one’s work in a high-end Gallery or even a prestigious Museum? Is it the best art of the best artist? The best pigment of the best pigment maker? The best representation of the group consciousness?
The message I read in these paintings is Joy. Joy from being in the world and feeling a profound love for what is there for them to experience. It is my sense that these Artists felt connected to the Universe and took it into the caves to preserve and protect and send the message forward for all future generations.