Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Venus in Sagittarius : The Art of Freedom II

Claude Monet
Rene Magritte

Sun Scorpio, Venus Sagittarius

Two artists, on the surface very different, but scratch just a little and we find they were both, in many ways, after the same thing.

Scorpio Sun lives for depth, for intensity. There is nothing superficial about Scorpio, which pierces the veil of mundanity looking for what lies beneath -  jewels or trash,  it's all the same to Scorpio. He just wants to know what's there. Scorpio loves mystery.

Marry this with with the Sagittarian love of exploration and truth and you've got one hell of a detective. And two artists, both obsessed with investigation and the revelation of the truth behind the facade.
The painting which gave rise to the name Impressionism

Monet sought the light. We tend to associate Scorpio with darkness and shadow, but Scorpio goes into the darkness to find enlightenment. The natural habitat of the symbols associated with Scorpio is light. Scorpion, the sunlit desert, Eagle the sunlit sky, and Phoenix the blazing firelight of its own immolation. And this immolation brings us to Sagittarius, the fire sign which follows Scorpio on the zodiac wheel.

 Rouen Cathedral Sunset

To reach the starlit fields of Sagittarius, Scorpio focuses its intensity through the lens that eventually sets fire to the object of its gaze, burning both down to the same ash, the pure essence, which then becomes the medium for rebirth.  Monet turned his gaze to the world around him, focused on its essence, the living fire beneath the form. He softened his lens from 20/20 and coloured what he saw outside the lines, coloured its living frequencies with a vibrant, fluid intensity, over and over, until he rebirthed art itself into Impressionism.
 Rouen Cathedral Morning Light

His Sagittarian Venus loved nature and the outdoors, and he broke with prevailing traditions by taking his paints and easel into the open air, painting freely the play of light and colour he found there. 

Rouen Cathedral Grey and Rose
As time went on he focused more and more on individual subjects, his gardens at Giverny, the cathedral at Rouen, painting them over and over through the changing light and seasons, trying somehow to capture the flux and flow of nature itself.  The subject remains the same, but our perception changes according to the light and the atmospheric conditions. (Perception is a major preoccupation of Sagittarius and also of Magritte as we'll see later). His fascination with flux is interesting, given that Scorpio is a water sign, and Sagittarius fire. 

One of the things I find most intriguing about Monet is the poetic nature of  his paintings, yet he himself described them as the product of scientific enquiry. A complex sign, Scorpio.


Magritte, interestingly, began his painting career as an impressionist, but quickly tired of it and became involved with Futurism and Cubism, eventually falling in with the Surrealists. In a way, his paintings speak for themselves, despite their apparent incomprehensibility. They deliberately provoke, inviting enquiry. I've found them a great way of getting children interested in fine art - their jaws drop, eyes widen and they almost squeal, 'What does it MEAN?' Which is exactly what Magritte claimed he was trying to do. 

The Treachery of Images
'My painting is visible images which conceal nothing.....they evoke mystery and indeed when one sees one of my pictures one asks oneself a simple question "What does that mean?" It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable'.

Yes well. Isn't the whole point of mystery that something is hidden? Hmmm. Let's break this down.

 'My painting is visible images which conceal nothing' - open handed Sagittarius.
 'They evoke mystery' - Scorpio.
 ' asks oneself a simple question, what does that mean?' - Sagittarius.
 'It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable'. - close fisted Scorpio.

 He might as well say ' I'm not telling you anything, I'm going to make you work for this'. Hilarious.

His paintings question perception, forcing us to think differently about the familiar. Probably his best known 'The Treachery of Images' was making the point that this isn't actually a pipe, it's just a painting of a pipe. Try stuffing tobacco in it and smoking it if you think it's a pipe, was his retort. Just how serious he was with it all remains a bit of a mystery (sorry, couldn't resist). 
The Human Condition

Sagittarius is the sign of the joker (most comedians have Sagittarius somewhere in their chart) and Scorpio, well, Scorpio is not just the sign of detection, it's the sign of the criminal too, being associated with the underworld.  After WWII, Magritte was involved in counterfeiting money and forging well known paintings to make a bit of cash. But then, given the times, so might we all have done.(That's my open-handed Venus in Sagittarius talking). 

Whatever the case, Magritte's paintings have that Scorpionic magnetic fascination that pulls the viewer in and then demands in Sagittarian fashion that we stretch our perception to find new meaning in what lies before us. Look at this, they seem to say, think you understand the world around you? Look again.

So two artists, same Sun sign, same Venus sign. Similar themes in both bodies of work, albeit with an individual approach and expression.

This video is a terrific gallery of Magritte's work. It even has a suitably scorpy saggie soundtrack courtesy of Nina Simone. Enjoy.

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