Posts Tagged ‘Guénon’

This commentary is a response to The Paintings of Julius Evola on the Aristocrats of the Soul blog.


Julius Evola “Composizione Dada” 1920


Evola intended to create jolts as a Dadaist. In support of his method he referenced  Lao Tzu whose riddles created circles in logic through which inifinity was glimpsed.  

But  Lao Tzu’s infinity was governed by the Tao.  Evola’s paintings, like Dadaism itself, leave me hanging. There is no support.  There is no evidence of a guiding Tao or omphalos or eternal spool from which temporary threads of variable color and texture flow.    

Evola’s  paintings accomplish a disorientation that lacks the toxic sweetness or foul wit of advanced decadence.  His color harmonies are  thoughtful.  They are evenly tempered while the geometries are radically agitated. One gets a sense of a man with a healthy, as opposed to a sick, imagination. If the paintings are mildly decadent, it’s  because they lack the clear organizing principle of Tao. Furthermore, there is no sense of natural and supernatural hierarchy in life’s paint!  Which isn’t to say that Evola’s paintings lack professional command of color, shape, volume, depth and moment. It’s just that they are, like the man, unfinished. 

The paintings were done at an interregnum in Evola’s life. The hyper-plasticity fits.  So do the razor lines that float or tilt or rise inside the frames. One gets a sense of a former artillery officer who really is, “… conjoined with the upsetting of all logic, ethic and aesthetic categories, in the most paradoxical and baffling ways.”  Meanwhile, Evola is yet to resolve the rupture in perception that is Dada’s battle cry.  That irresolution, if one is being very hard on oneself, is the decadence. All in all,  the paintings don’t lack beauty and/or depth; they lack a willful personal order placed upon a timeless Supernatural Order.  A combination which ultimately suits Evola’s Roman metaphysics more than the sublime sweetness of Tao.  

Personally,  Evola’s doctrine of “The Absolute Man” has been a difficult study.  I’m a little  disappointed that Evola’s paintings don’t help me see it.  They lack a dominant symbol of the singular and the many.  But it seems that the metaphysics of unity, whether in stationary meditation as a priest or in dynamic action as a warrior, were a post-painting study. The paintings, I’ll repeat, show a very healthy imagination at work during an interregnum. Their vitality is irreproachable but their mature message isn’t expressed on the canvas as a painter. It’s expressed on the page as a writer.  Evola steps into a different square.

Perhaps, like the multi-lingual Guénon who selected between languages for the one that  best described the concept at hand, Evola chose writing over painting as the form best suited to his meaning.  In this, he was the mercurial yet binding cinnabar.