Meta-realism : The tradition of power/magic in representational painting



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Although my formal study of art has been thorough, it has been incomplete. While it has given me insights by broadening my base of information and experience, there is an issue in art to which I am particularly sensitive that was rarely mentioned, much less investigated. Specifically, I am interested in more fully understanding the expressive power of the image in mimetic or representational painting independent of its formal qualities. Mimetic images are characteristically concerned with direct translation of observable three- dimensional information on a two-dimensional surface. By their very nature these images focus on appearances of individual objects, but by doing so, paradoxically filter out and isolate that which lies behind appearances-the meta-real or ultimate reality. Like a butterfly whose beauty escapes us until it is pinned to the wall, reality must be isolated before it can be understood. The power inherent in mimetic images which enables us to deal more comprehensively with the intangible qualities of our environment and our experience is one I will term meta-realism. This paper examines this issue by first discussing why the expressive power of imitation has been neglected and then tracing through both ancient and ongoing traditions those levels of communication which are unique to mimetic images.