MURAL IN JEFFERSON HALL

OCCIDENTAL APPORT TO WORLD CULTURE

JEAN CHARLOT[1]

 

The mural was done in conjunction with the one painted by Affandi at the other end of the Hall.  They form a pair with parallel subject matter.  Affandi’s speaks for Asia, mine for the Occident. 

In our first talks and sketches, we decided that both murals should contain hands of a heroic size, symbolical of Asia (Affandi) and of the Occident (mine).  Otherwise there was no compulsion to adopt identical styles, color schemes, etc….  To be successful, these murals, representing distinct cultures, could not be otherwise than dissimilar. 

The Occidental apport is treated in generalized form.  In the center, large hands enclose fire.  The hands stand for human effort, the fire for creativity.  Two figures flank the central motif.  On the left, Inspiration, looking upwards, represents the element of poetry or genius in all discoveries, be they in art or science.  On the right, Study, self-centered, reading a book, suggesting factual research and a sense of history. 

Besides the subject matter, the style used is based on Occidental art.  The scene is enclosed in a cubic space that prolongs in illusive perspective the perspective of the surrounding architecture.  I used linear perspective, also called Italian perspective, as one of the unique features of Occidental art. 

The two figures, Inspiration and Study, are conceived somewhat as if they were marble statues.  Their forms and attitudes suggest the classical arts of Greece and Rome that are the foundations of our Occidental art. 

The technique of the work is buon fresco, true fresco, the same technique that Italy inherited from classical antiquity, used by Occidental masters since before the days of Giotto. 

 



[1] Inspiration, Study, Creation.  Jefferson Hall (now the Hawai`i Imin Center), East–West Center, Honolulu, Hawai`i, 15’ X 16 ½’.  September 7–27, 1967.

Edited by John Charlot.