angelos michail spartalis

the philosophy of blue

ASTYPALEA, AUGUST 2001, Translated by Matina Chatzimarkou

text also available in Greek
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the world......

The philosophy of blue was first presented
at the opening of the painting exhibition "Reflections",
in Astypalea, Greece (August 2001).
Since then, it accompanies all exhibitions
of the same series of paintings.



The philosophy of blue is a landmark in the artistic venture of Spartalis. The text parallel and inseparably related to the new paintings of the "Reflections" series, brings out -as a starting and reference point- his theory on art, the idea, the communication, the human, you and me. His work functions as a means of escape to a field of unknown limits; a field that is suitable for a reassessment of aesthetics as well as for an exploration of the substance of painting.

The things he wants to express have been conceived some time now. He manages to put across those in at both of his arts, writing and painting. With a maniac passion he wants to record the existence into words and icons. Tools for this process are his paint-brushes and notes. He "speaks" with the oil-paints, he "illustrates" with his word-inventions. Extreme? Could be. Revolutionary? Perhaps. Definitely free in his -very own- autonomous thought and will. In 1999 he wrote: "...I will be thinking without existing, I will be drawing, I will be my thought and pencils..." (illustrated poem "The self-lit light"). More recently: "...after maniac thought I won't have other philosophy than the blue color and with the philosophy of blue I will have explained the world [...] I will ram this worthless solar system of ours where it hurts, I will be dead in the sun" (theatrical monologue "The round river"). In the philosophy of blue he comes back, defines himself and concludes that "...using all languages of art, [...] I am able to think, feel and talk to you about the whole.[...] I am free!". In order to set himself free, he uses arbitrarily his own language of art that is symbolized by isochromatic relations. This innovative invention is his personal solution to the problem of communication (internal and external).

In painting, particularly, he strives to depict its supremacy, considering important the rejection of any sort of categorization. Therefore, he sets a concept model that produces visual equations (as he considers himself a suppressed theoretical mathematician!). The parts of Spartalis's equations are connected with isochromatic relations, not with equality. In those equations he dispels the myth of -isms (modernism, post-modernism...) and the disputes of those, regarding art as a whole, without discontinuities. He creates art "deriving directly from color" (Goethe), never-ending games of being - being represented, of pictures and reflection images, an art which is anthropocentric, elaborating his visual motives on a primitive level.

At the latest exhibition of Spartalis, under the auspices of the Museum of Modern Greek Art (Rhodes, March 2001), works that symbolized translucently the tragic state of man in our contemporary times, were presented. Those were distorted, spiral-like figures, an instinctively violent iconography. In the series "Reflections" he continues where he left off, this time arranging in each of the paintings the co-existence of realistic and surreal, inarticulate figures. The first ones are the reflections of the second. The "unconstitutional" figures are placed in the "natural environment" of the canvas, while their mirror images are within mirrors, other canvases, photo frames. Here, the isochromatic relations of the philosophy of blue are recognizable again:
- "isolation" b6.gif (844 bytes) "dead end corridor without a roof" b6.gif (844 bytes) "sofa"
- "me" b6.gif (844 bytes) "you" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not mirror" b6.gif (844 bytes) "scribbles"

The world, that we are conscious of, is a representation on a mirror; the latter reflects a representation of another mirror and so on. It is like a "mimetic drama in which the subject can locate his/her hysterical pleasure", as R. Barthes wrote. The reflection of the reflection, the malformation of the malformation, finally leads to the real meaning and true form. That is the mechanism that Spartalis deals with in his writing and painting.

With the same mechanism, I draw a parallel between the final isochromatic relation in the philosophy of blue and the following poem extract by Yeats: "Empty eyeballs knew/ That knowledge increases unreality, that/ Mirror on mirror mirrored is all the show", therefore:
- "malformation" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not form" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not not malformation".

That's the philosophy of blue.

Polly Hatzimarkou
Museum of Modern Greek Art


The philosophy of blue

I live each day with the sense that it could be my last. That's the main reason I write and paint. That's the main reason I live with unrestrained appetite. The philosophy of blue" is a piece of work which I'd like it to be my last. I am writing it now since I am incapable of determining my life span. Here, I finally answer the question: "Why do I exist?". So, almost inevitably, I also answer the question why I think you exist!

The sum of the energy, in all its forms, comprises the universe. Man lives through an infinitesimal part of the universe using his physical and mechanical senses. The knowledge of the reason why energy exists (why it exists and why it "flows") comprises the whole. The whole is the absolute knowledge of the process through which energy initially derived, and since, then it has been imprinted on nothingness creating the universe. The whole contains both the conscience and the description of itself. The whole is the absolute knowledge, whereas the nature of the whole ought not to be confused with the nature of human knowledge (which is merely a miniscule part of absolute knowledge).

Man is incapable of precisely defining the whole, as that would go beyond his mental ability, memory and knowledge. However, since he feels a part of the whole, he is able to perceive it only if he narrows it down to the following "poetic", but not "scientific" definition: "The whole is the absolute knowledge and the universe is an imprint of the whole". (definition 1)

Axiomatically I consider the following: "Man is incapable of knowing the whole" (axiom 1). For the above reason, his knowledge will always remain partial. Metaphorically speaking, I place man in the position of a flea in a dog's body. That flea, having explored the exterior of the animal at which it sucks, progresses mentally until it wishes to obtain knowledge of the interior of the dog, of all the dogs and of other animals, including their environment. Then, the flea adds to its philosophical queries all the human ones. It is said that the flea has no emotions or rationale. I do not think that it is utterly incapable to obtain them in the future. It is said that the flea will conquer the world. I do not think it will ever succeed. I also do not understand Man's horrendous insolence to differentiate his position from that of the flea's; not of course in terms of the "personal", "private" residence of man with his "ultra-modern" electrical appliances and the pet with the parasite case, but in terms of the limits of the universe which are currently unknown and will probably always be unknown. Such a thought is not self-explanatory and does not fulfill me in order to accept it as an axiom.

"Man is the conscience of the universe!" This impressive definition undoubtedly honors man, unfortunately only within the limits of his conscience and his mental ability. Man is a flea of the whole. He becomes acquainted with fragments of the whole, he will get to know some more, and there will be even more which will always remain unknown. The realization of the world will always escape him.

Ancient philosophers, "the great minds of their time", were stating confidently that the world consists of water or earth or fire or air or combinations of those. The world consists of triangles, squares, dodecahedra, or combinations of those. They kept the existence of irrational numbers a secret out of vanity, struggling the betrayers. Why? Simply because they were obsessed with interpreting the universe and needed an interpretation that would suit their needs: "A single, symmetrical and submitted to logic universe". Contemporary astrophysicists do not differ from ancient philosophers at all when they try to unify the forces, applied in the universe, aiming at the discovery of the "simplistic" recipe of creativity.

On the other hand, contemporary mathematicians eliminated the established aspect that "ignorabimus" ("unknown") did not exist in mathematics just seventy years ago. Since then, we have known that there are logical -and indeed truthful- sentences which can never be proven. Such unproved sentences exist in every math theory compulsorily, in spite of which axioms establish it (Theorem of non-completeness, K.Godel, 1931). There are sentences that may be true or false, but we will never know based on facts! In mathematics, in the perfect, logical and manly-made structure there is "ignorabimus" ("unknown") which will remain forever unknown! Logic and philosophy turn their back to the arrogant man, his structures abandon him, the ship sinks.

A consequence of the first axiom ("Man is incapable of knowing the whole") that was stated in paragraph (2) is that every human reference to the whole is false. Whoever claims that "god exists" or "god does not exist" is wrong in both cases, because he refers to something which most people perceive as the master of the whole and more specifically he negotiates the existence of it. However, he is not in the position of ever finding out! Similarly, the question which I claim I am answering ("Why

do I exist?") only conditional answers can be given. The greater the part of the unknown whole those conditions include, the more mistaken are the answers that derive.

By applying the above, every venture of mine to set a second axiom, which would refer to the whole, or to prove a theorem which would be based upon the first axiom and also refer to the whole, would fail. Even the first axiom when applied to itself terminates its value, as it embraces human reference to the knowledge of the whole; hence there is error.

I contemplate the following sentence: "The whole consists of the known whole, the now unknown whole and the forever unknown whole". (theorem 1) This can be expressed by the algebraic relation:

Whole= [known whole] + [now unknown whole] + [forever unknown whole]

We are familiar with a part of the whole, the [known whole], since we feel a part of the universe which is, according to the first definition, an imprint of the whole. The scientific discoveries daily expand the [known whole], so something which is currently considered unknown might become known in the near future. This soon-to-be discovered knowledge is the [now unknown whole]. Finally, according to the first axiom, there will always be a part of the whole remaining forever unknown to man, the [forever unknown whole].

This silly equation displays the human reference to the whole and according to the first axiom it contains error, while the rejection of the above equation would also include an error; hence every relation in the form of "Whole ..." or "Whole ..." is meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that the whole was light-heartedly considered a total of sub-totals contains error, since, as it has already been mentioned in paragraph (1b), the ignorance of the nature of the whole does not permit it.

For every proof there is a counter-proof, for every thesis an antithesis and for every rationality an irrationality. The interpretation of the world escapes my human logic and it is essential to develop new, independent "tools" to access the whole. I ought to liberate myself from the everyday spoken language and the language of science.

At this point I will introduce art (at last) in order to save myself from being an object of ridicule! I set the artistic symbol "b6.gif (844 bytes)" (read: "isochroma") with which I replace the mathematical symbol "=" ("equal to"). The new symbol means equality of the parts of the equation: "A b6.gif (844 bytes) B" ("A isochroma B") presupposing that an error is contained. That error cannot be abolished, since the reference object is now unknown and may remain forever unknown. So, the isochromatic relation "A b6.gif (844 bytes) B" ("A isochroma B") means that term A equals term B because that is the way I like to express it! It suits my nature to comprehend the relation of terms A and B that way, even though term A, term B or even both terms are unfamiliar with my nature and beyond my mental ability, memory and knowledge. This relation expresses myself artistically, not scientifically. It certifies a subjective beauty, not an objective truth.

A blue car and a blue sky have a common characteristic (they are both blue in colour) but they are not equal (they could not be due to their different nature). The isochromatic relation "Car b6.gif (844 bytes) Sky" ("Car isochroma Sky") has no meaning but only sentiment (for example the following verse of the Greek song "If only I could have a petrol station in the clouds", L. Nikolakopoulou, 1997) whereas the equation "Car = Sky" ("Car equals Sky") is deprived of meaning and sentiment in everyday language. It becomes obvious that the isochromatic relation, which connects known and familiar to man objects of reference, falls into either a simile, a metaphor or an oxymoron figure of speech. As far as meanings, sentiments and the [forever unknown whole] are concerned, the isochromatic relation "whole b6.gif (844 bytes) blue" ("whole isochroma blue") expresses artistically and not scientifically a subjective unsteady beauty; not an objective - everywhere present and forever lasting - truth. Besides, the objectivity, the "everywhere present" and the "forever lasting" are human inventions, the value of which is hereby distinctly doubted. The world is blue.

Language and its writing form emerged from the development of everyday verbal communication that has been used to serve the external way of communication (man with other man). Thought, which is an internal way of communication (man with himself), was also naively based on the same language and writing form. This way, we think by using a language which is designed to warn of impending dangers (dinosaurs, thieves, diseases), to reveal shelter and sources of food, and, in our days, almost exclusively, to "trade" love and death.

Man thinks by using the everyday spoken language and his thoughts can be recorded in the writing form of that language. That imprisons mind in a stereotypical method of functioning. Moreover, mind is imprisoned further more in the prison of the human body. The human body imposes limitations on the mind in two ways: From the way in, mind receives only as many messages as the sensors of the body can. Think of how we would think if we had an additional sense -now unknown to us-, or if one of the senses we now take for granted, for example vision, lacked always and from all people! From the way out, on the other hand, mind cannot control the body except within the defined limits of its physical endurance. Think of how we would think if we had "superficial" powers, if for example we could fly or if we lacked one of our abilities -now familiar to us-, such as speaking!

Mind is simultaneously trapped in two prisons: the prison of everyday spoken language and the prison of the human body. Escapes from the prisons of the mind comprise emotions and dreams.

Thoughts man has, not being able to express them through everyday spoken language, are thoughts that did not occur by using everyday spoken language and are nothing more than emotions. Emotions are "indescribable" thoughts which free the mind from the prison of everyday spoken language.

Thoughts man has, not taking into consideration nature as dictated by his senses, are thoughts which cannot be carried out by the body and are nothing more than dreams. In dreams and hallucinations, travelling through time and superficial powers release mind from the body prison.

Thoughts-emotions and the thoughts-dreams need a language of a "lower level", different from the everyday spoken language, in order to be expressed isochromatically. What is meant hereby, by the term language of a "lower level", is every language containing less logic and more emotional acuity when describing; a language that includes merely the essentials to succeed both in the formation and expression of a thought, aiming at the formation of a second thought based upon the expression of the first (thoughts-emotions cohesion). That retrospective process, which may lead man to think and express himself through emotions and dreams, is the same one which initially led him to think and express through words of everyday spoken language. The lower the level of the language is, the more isochromatic relations can be expressed spontaneously.

Language, in whichever form, is essential for thought and it is not self-evident that it may be abolished. Contrary to the conclusion that one may come to, based on what has been stated in paragraph (6), the process {(formation of first thought)->(expression of first thought)->(formation of second thought)->(expression of second thought)->...} cannot be simplified to the process {(formation of first thought)->(formation of second thought)->...} because, resulting from experience, the thoughts-emotions are recorded on memory ("written") and recalled ("read"). During the formation of a thought that is based upon another (thoughts-emotions cohesion), the first thought is recalled ("read") from memory, so that a second thought can be formed upon it. To accomplish that, the first thought should have previously been imprinted in some form of "writing", therefore in some form of "language", on memory and hence having been expressed. Therefore, if language (expression) is abolished, thought cohesions are automatically abolished, since memory is abolished. Mind without language and memory is restricted to isolated emotions-flashes, if such a thing exists and whatever its nature is.

A young child, who has never been in danger so far, suddenly places his hand on a burning stove. The child's body sensor receives the signal (high temperature) and sends the message to the brain through the nerve system. Then, in the child's mind the thought of being in danger is primarily formed and identified with the emotion of danger. Even though the child should first learn the everyday spoken language in order to shout: "Help! I am burning!", at that moment he lets out an inarticulate scream, expressing his thought and intending to communicate externally with another person ("mother"). However, just before the external communication, the child during the internal communication with himself, does not "scream"! The child expresses his thoughts-emotions aiming at storing them in memory. That is essential in order to move on to his next thoughts-emotions (thoughts-emotions cohesion) which will finally lead him to scream. The expression of thoughts-emotions is succeeded by the pain which is experienced and stored in memory biologically. Pain does not exist in nature; so does joy. These are "words" of the "internal language of the mind" which intend to express thoughts-
emotions. The child will "remember" (by reading from memory) the intensity and the way "danger hurts" (which differs from the intensity and the way a burning hurts); as a result he will "remember" the emotion of danger.

If the "internal language of the mind" is represented with a simplistic model, it can be regarded as the combination of two "words" which are easier to be comprehended as two states: one is the state "stay" ("joy") and the other is the state "go"("pain") with their intensities. Pain can be considered as the absence of joy and joy as the absence of pain. Mind alters continuously moving from one state to the other and from one intensity to another, aiming at the formation of thoughts and emotions. Each thought and each emotion are coherent transitions from states of joy to states of pain of alternating intensities.

The "internal language of mind" is the base of all languages; it is of a lower level compared to everyday spoken language and can only be used for internal communication (man with himself) but not for external communication (man with other man). The "internal language of mind" is the lowest language in terms of logical acuity of descriptiveness that man can ever imagine.

In a group of meanings in which pain and joy are absent (such as the concept of the whole) the "vocabulary" of the "internal language of mind" is incapable of coping. Therefore, reference to any meaning that belongs to such a group, should be dealt in the context of the capacity of the mind and taken for granted that it is conceived only isochromatically.

The languages of "poetry", "painting", "music" and all languages of art are of a lower level compared to the everyday spoken language because they contain great indefiniteness and irrationality; they have emotional -not logical- acuity of descriptiveness and for those reasons they are more suitable to describe isochromatically thoughts-emotions, thoughts-dreams and, finally, refer to the whole.

The language of mathematics absolutely liberates mind from the human body (like art does) and absolutely confines mind to stereotypes by its logical acuity of descriptiveness (unlike art). That is why some theoretical mathematicians act as suppressed artists, whereas some artists (including myself) act as suppressed theoretical mathematicians. Mathematics is a language of a higher level compared to the everyday spoken language and is the most advanced language in logical acuity of descriptiveness which man has ever invented.

Briefly, the languages that have been mentioned so far are sorted according to their logical acuity of descriptiveness, as follows:

a. language of mathematics................highest

b. everyday spoken language

c. language of art

d. internal language of mind

Seeking the appropriate "tools" in order to perceive the whole isochromatically (internal communication), I start from the lowest language, the "internal language of mind" and approach joy and pain in their purest form. It is as if I hold pin and start piercing my finger:

I "decode" the already known thoughts and emotions:
- "Pain-death" b6.gif (844 bytes) "piercing the flesh with the pin instantaneously reaching the other side"
- "Joy -hedonistic relief" b6.gif (844 bytes) "Withdrawing the pin instantaneously"
- "Danger" b6.gif (844 bytes) "Penetrating the pin slowly and gradually deeper"
- "Agony" b6.gif (844 bytes) "Successive light pricks which gradually accelerate in rhythm and increase in intensity"
- "Serenity" b6.gif (844 bytes) "Successive very light, sparse for a long time and dense for a short time, irregular pricks"

Then, I "code" new thoughts and feelings:
- "Light prick, long pause, light prick and instantaneously deep penetration of the pin into the flesh for a long time, removal of the pin and repetition of the process" b6.gif (844 bytes) "attack"
- "Successive, abrupt, monotonous, repetitive pricks" b6.gif (844 bytes) "revolution"
- "Successive, light, monotonous, repetitive pricks" b6.gif (844 bytes) "obsession"
- "Slow penetration of the pin to the limit of unbearable pain, short-term stay in this state followed by an abrupt removal, short-term stay in this state and repetition of the process" b6.gif (844 bytes) "Love"

Following the above, I use the appropriate "tools", so I can talk to you about the whole (external communication). Using the "language of art" I start to express joy and pain exactly as I had perceived them previously. I "talk" to you with paint brushes and colors of my painting:

- "whole" b6.gif (844 bytes) "blue"
- "universe" b6.gif (844 bytes) "shades of blue"
- "metaphysics" b6.gif (844 bytes) "ghosts in the dark" b6.gif (844 bytes) "[now unknown]" + [always unknown]"
- "god" b6.gif (844 bytes) "master" b6.gif (844 bytes) "logical trap in the dark" b6.gif (844 bytes) "non-existent"
- "life" b6.gif (844 bytes) "animals in the light" b6.gif (844 bytes) "disordered white spots and irregular threads scattered in blue"
- "me" b6.gif (844 bytes) "you" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not mirror" b6.gif (844 bytes) "scribbles"
- "joy" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not pain" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not continuous thin line"
- "Marx's theory" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not Freud's theory" b6.gif (844 bytes) "landscape" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not portrait" b6.gif (844 bytes) "arrow pointing here" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not arrow pointing there"
- "malformation" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not form" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not not malformation"
- "isolation" b6.gif (844 bytes) "dead end corridor without a roof" b6.gif (844 bytes) "sofa"
- "creativity" b6.gif (844 bytes) "joy" b6.gif (844 bytes) "love" b6.gif (844 bytes) "you and me" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not photograph" b6.gif (844 bytes) "a white ejaculation in blue" b6.gif (844 bytes) "painting by Modigliani"
- "sterility" b6.gif (844 bytes) "pain" b6.gif (844 bytes) "death" b6.gif (844 bytes) "only me" b6.gif (844 bytes) "red bleeding in blue" b6.gif (844 bytes) "painting by Bacon"
- "Why do I exist?" b6.gif (844 bytes) "painting by Miro!"

I am in the position to repeat the experiment of paragraph (10) and refer to the whole, expressing joy and pain not only by using tools of painting, but also lines from poetry or even strings from music. Using all languages of art, separately or in combinations, I am able to think, feel and "talk" to you about the whole. I am no longer in need of using the everyday spoken language or mathematics and sciences. I am free!


- "whole" b6.gif (844 bytes) "blue"
- "universe" b6.gif (844 bytes) "shades of blue"
- "metaphysics" b6.gif (844 bytes) "ghosts in the dark" b6.gif (844 bytes) "[now unknown]" + [always unknown]"
- "god" b6.gif (844 bytes) "master" b6.gif (844 bytes) "logical trap in the dark" b6.gif (844 bytes) "non-existent"
- "life" b6.gif (844 bytes) "animals in the light" b6.gif (844 bytes) "disordered white spots and irregular threads scattered in blue"
- "me" b6.gif (844 bytes) "you" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not mirror" b6.gif (844 bytes) "scribbles"
- "joy" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not pain" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not continuous thin line"
- "Marx's theory" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not Freud's theory" b6.gif (844 bytes) "landscape" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not portrait" b6.gif (844 bytes) "arrow pointing here" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not arrow pointing there"

- "malformation" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not form" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not not malformation"
- "isolation" b6.gif (844 bytes) "dead end corridor without a roof" b6.gif (844 bytes) "sofa"
- "creativity" b6.gif (844 bytes) "joy" b6.gif (844 bytes) "love" b6.gif (844 bytes) "you and me" b6.gif (844 bytes) "not photograph" b6.gif (844 bytes) "a white ejaculation in blue" b6.gif (844 bytes) "painting by Modigliani"
- "sterility" b6.gif (844 bytes) "pain" b6.gif (844 bytes) "death" b6.gif (844 bytes) "only me" b6.gif (844 bytes) "red bleeding in blue" b6.gif (844 bytes) "painting by Bacon"
- "Why do I exist
?" b6.gif (844 bytes) "painting by Miro!"


the end


The book was published in 5000 copies,
in Rhodes (August 2001). text & illustration:
E.M.Spartalis / curator: Polly Hatzimarkou /
photographs: Maria Anezia / english translation:
Matina Chatzimarkou / graphic design: Irini Voutiraki.