From the book, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art
, by Stephen Nachmanovitch:
Lets return to Michelangelo's idea of removing apparent surfaces to reveal or liberate the statue that had been buried in the stone since the beginning of time. Michelangelo claimed that he was guided by a faculty he called intelleto. Intelleto is intelligence, not of the merely rational kind, but visionary intelligence, a deep seeing of the underlying pattern beneath appearances. Here the artist is, as it were, an archaeologist, uncovering not as ancient civilization but something as yet unborn, unseen, unheard except by the inner eye, the inner ear. He is not just removing apparent surfaces from an external object, he is removing apparent surfaces from the Self, revealing his original nature.
I love this idea of intelleto
...for all that we speak and write about our work, there is something compelling us in the studio that is best described as "something as yet unborn, unseen, unheard..." And as much as viewers of art like to know the background story, the intellectual underpinnings, the influences and what the art critics have to say--they too recognize this search and respond to it in a similarly wordless, gut-level way. However individualized (and highly so, in each artist) that searched-for unknown is a universal experience. When an artist is following the intelleto
path there is a sincerity and honesty that shines out.
I also love the idea that what is searched for in the work is right there within the self, to be uncovered by chipping through various preconceived ideas and influences. But while there is some casting aside of unnecessary or false leads, there is also an over-riding positive, compelling and joyful aspect of this process--the probing and exploring of memories, thoughts, visual impressions, and what the medium we work with can do to express these. In the Michelangelo analogy, I think it is his trust in the process that speaks of his genius as much as the final sculpture.
(Plenty there to contemplate in this quote, isn't there? And it is just one paragraph from this remarkable book, recommended to me by two painter friends on separate occasions-Carol Beth Icard
and Janice Mason Steeves
The image above is Landmark
12"x12", oil and mixed media on panel.