Saturday, January 14, 2012

Painting Lascaux

Last summer Carol and I visited the Dordone Valley in Southwestern France, where there are numerous caves with prehistoric paintings from over 20,000 years ago. The most famous of these is Lascaux, with its spectacular "Hall of Bulls". These caves represent an amazing record of prehistoric man.

Earlier we had visited the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain. There we saw how Picasso deconstructed and rebuilt the images he saw around him into a fresh vision of the world. His paintings are the work of a genius painter and a transcendental seer. The painters of the caves of Southern France reveal the same genius in both painting and insight into the world around them.

Here is a link to the Lascaux cave:

Painting Lascaux

Returning from the hunt with the men
the boy idly traces
the back of a horse
on the muddy river bank
when something in the line
the trueness of the image
pleases him

he draws line after line
image after image
and some take on
a life of their own
so that adults walking by say
ah that’s nice

and when he closes his eyes and sees
a horse tumbling through space
or a cow jumping high in the air
hind legs tucked up in delight
he paints     and others feel
the tingle of mystery

the elders
watch all this and nod
and one day
take him by the hand
come they say
it’s time for you
to paint the cave

Copyright © 2011 Francis Kearns