Monday, August 19, 2013

Quixotic warriors of an inner struggle - Francis Upritchard at Anton Kern Gallery

When you first enter Anton Kern and see the figures of the older men in bizarre tai-chi like positions, you might be perplexed.  In her artist statement, however, Upritchard clarifies matters somewhat by indicating these are warriors engaged in a type of inner struggle.

Some of the figures wear chain mail, some have caps bearing crucifixes.

Often when we think of a person engaged in inner struggle or in a process of inner discernment, we imagine folks like this:

So Upritchard's pieces resonated with me because my own attempts to understand my own motives, emotions and cognitive processes have not always been the peaceful endeavor depicted immediately above. Indeed, an insight can come during some experience or encounter in the world just as readily (or perhaps more readily) as it can during deep reflection.

Upritchard also points to the fact that in our attempts to dive deeper into ourselves, we look for metaphors and military metaphors often help us to, paradoxically, understand inner conflicts or attempts to overcome inner obstacles in order to attain a more peaceful inner life.  Some 'holy' books contain extreme violence and military endeavors ordered or sanctioned by "God."

Here are men - about the age of Quixote - who have adopted all the military trappings (except weapons) but are not engaged in an outward 'fight.'  They have conceived of their inner journey as a battle and their outward posture, facial expressions and accoutrements reflect this.