The Archaeology of the Future
I always was, and still continue to be, continuously astonished, impressed and thrilled by what other people who encounter original paintings by OUBEY discover in them.
In the early stages of the Project, to give an example, a visitor to the studio commented after a time of quiet contemplation – but without the least prior knowledge of the spiritual and intellectual background to OUBEYs creative work – that: “These pictures are like archaeological excavations of the future.”. His remark sprang spontaneously and directly from his emotions at gazing at the pictures.
What a great and inspiring thought! I am led into a process of broadened discovery of previously unsuspected elements in OUBEYs pictures through discoveries like this made by other people. This is tremendously exciting for me and something which is of true benefit to the development process of the Project itself.
Someone once asked me if the Global Tour had set its sights on documenting different cultural perceptions of OUBEYs art among the peoples of the world. This is not the case. On the contrary, I wanted to find out whether the hope OUBEY himself once expressed that his pictures would “fascinate an Inuit just as much as an Aborigine or a native New Yorker” would be fulfilled by a Global Tour taking his paintings across different continents and cultures.
After seven stopovers of the Tour on four continents it can now be seen that the evidentiary cultural and other differences existing between people who view his pictures across the world fall into the background or even completely disappear when they view them. And what then becomes much more apparent are the things they share in common and the things that bring and bind them together.
If we think in terms of the great arc of time, this is perhaps not so surprising because ultimately all people stem from the same evolutionary lineage. The differences in language, culture and physiognomy that have crystallized out over time are comparatively young and thus much less deeply anchored than we would like to think.
And even if the Encounters with OUBEY do not furnish any scientific evidence to underpin this hypothesis, in their own way they do offer a very extraordinary and inspirational illustration in support of it.
Art that builds bridges
We now know that Neanderthal man, for instance, was no prosimian half-ape but an early variant of the human species that in the course of migratory movements interbred with Homo sapiens. Science and technology help us gain a new and better understanding of what we have in common and of what potentially separates or differentiates us. There is a justified glimmer of hope that we shall not need another three thousand years to acknowledge the interconnectivity, the similarities, the universal nature of our species and to become increasingly adept at acting on such qualities – should we only want to.
In this sense, the comment on OUBEYs painting made by that visitor to his studio many years ago also opens an interesting perspective on exactly this issue. If OUBEYs paintings really do have the quality of being “like archaeological excavations of the future”, then the Encounter Project still holds within it some pretty interesting untapped potential that’s well worth discovering.