A D R I A N S T O K E S
In a late poem he confessed:
Even though upon Hyde Park I
My life in the attempt sometimes to restore
To put to rights everything then feed
In wrong I cannot say I have succeeded
Yet. The agony remains. 4
The poetry confirms that Stokes viewed art fundamentally as a process of integration and reparation of that which is broken and scattered within the psyche and without in the harshness of our urban culture. In Italy he discovered an affirmative topos to counter Hyde Park; the "Rapallo experience" when on New Year's Eve 1921-2 he felt himself reborn through the Mont Cenis tunnel into the counter-landscape of the South where "there was a revealing of things in the Mediterranean sunlight, beyond any previous experience; I had the new sensation that the air was touching things; that the space between things touched them, belonged in common; that space itself was utterly revealed." 5 The whole of Stokes's writing, painting and poetry can be viewed as a working out of this intense experience. Stressing the architectonic basis of Stokes's theory, Richard Wollheim writes that, for Stokes, "architecture gives us the entrée into art" 6 We are sensitized to the plane of the canvas or the textures of a relief by life-long fundamental experiences of the cobbles of a street; the juncture of paving and wall. The personal encounter with the wall plane becomes the zone of inter-action between our inner feelings and their outer transposition. Yet, for Stokes, the converse is also true; that in contemplating the art of Giorgione and Piero della Francesca he discovered the potentialities of the architectonic as an enframement for human form, life and emotion. Inspired by Pater he loved the art of Giorgione, in particular his mysterious Tempesta.
In this painting the basic architectural elements of plinth, fractured column and arcuated wall plane, that occupy the middle ground, are equal participants in the enigmatic relations between the standing youth and the nursing mother.
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image © Web Gallery of Art