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Arabian Scene
by Sanchia Lewis

Imagination involves the picturing to oneself of something non-existent or not present to the senses and in terms of the process of imagining, the ability of the mind to be creative and resourceful.

William Blake wrote on imagination:
" To me this world is all one continued vision of fancy or imagination......"
and why was this? Because to Blake the world of imagination is the world of eternity. From this follows the insistence on vision, the immediate perception of the "infinite and eternal' in everything; literally, "To see a World in a grain of Sand."

These were no mere words, Blake's religious views were intimately linked to his view of imagination and he wrote:
"I know of no other Christianity than the liberty both of body and mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination … The Apostles knew of no other Gospel. What were all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? Is the Holy Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? … What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are to lay up for ourselves? Are they any other than Mental [ i.e. Imaginative] Studies and Performances? What are the Gifts of the Gospel? are they not all Mental Gifts?"
We do not need to share Blake's religious views to respond to his lofty vision of what the powers of imagination are capable of...everything! As we know, Blake's imagination enabled him to produce some extraordinarily powerful drawings and paintings, so his views on the central importance of imagination to art, indeed to the whole of (eternal) life should merit our close attention and respect.

Blake knew that the road to great art is not primarily via the intellect, though the intellect is and must be involved. Rather a work which does not address the imagination and the spirit can never achieve the highest level, whatever it's intellectual content.

We are therefore going to demand high imaginative content from our art. As a first step we feel sure that imagination is such a powerful capability that it would be an insult to restrict it to the collection and subsequent re-arrangement of Ready Made objects. These are mere "props" which the artist has stumbled upon, without making them or ever having full control over them, other than in the second order "tidiness" of arrangement into a pattern or installation. So Conceptual artists are only as good as, or usually as bad as, their Readymades. This in no sense reaches William Blake's level of imagination.
On the other hand, a fully imaginative painter is able to form the mental pictures of things non-existent or not present to the senses, together with the associated ideas and feelings, and then to so order and express those images that the finished picture can communicate those images, ideas and feelings to any viewer who comes along.

Conceptual art is shackled to the earth and can't "fly" because it has no "wings" of imagination. Let us demand proper artistic imagination that feeds the spirit and reaches for the eternal.

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