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Zenith of Human Aspiration: 'Flat Emotion' by Bartosz Beda - first stages of the oil painting and studio view.

Reaching for the Zenith: The Dualities of Triumph and Isolation in ‘Flat Emotion’

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Reaching for the Zenith: The Dualities of Triumph and Isolation in ‘Flat Emotion’

Explore ‘Flat Emotion’ by Bartosz Beda, an artistic zenith capturing the dualities of triumph and isolation through the lens of astronaut experiences.

The Astronauts’ Visage: A Window to the Soul

As I gaze upon “Flat Emotion,” my 2015 oil on canvas creation, I am instantly transported back to the era of the first American astronauts, whose stoic and resolute visages before their lunar journey inspired this work. The canvas, sprawling at 168×120 cm, is a complex interplay of forms and colors, capturing the essence of anticipation and the weight of monumental endeavors. 

I painted this painting in Moscow, Idaho, roughly two years after moving to this small college town in the middle of nowhere. The isolation was an inspiration to reach the sky metaphorically and literally. I wanted to feel like an astronaut who went to space.

Abstract Forms: Echoing the Cosmos

In this painting, I juxtapose the astronauts’ portraits with abstract elements to convey the emotions beneath their composed exteriors. The broad, confident strokes and muted colors evoke the texture of their space suits and the vast, uncharted cosmos that awaited them. The overlay of sharp, dynamic shapes and splashes of color amidst the more realistic depictions reflect the intense focus and energy surrounding their mission.

Humanity and Infinity: A Symbiotic Fluidity

The background blends into the figures, suggesting the fluidity between the astronauts and their environment—between humanity and the vast expanse of space. The faces, partially obscured and merged with the abstract, speak to the universal nature of their experience, representing not just individuals but all of humanity stepping into the unknown.

Homage to Pioneers: A Journey Beyond Earth

Flat Emotion” is my homage to these pioneers. In it, I strive to capture their likenesses and the spirit of an era filled with wonder, anxiety, and the boundless potential of human courage and curiosity.

There is also a symbolic inner desire to be more than just an artist. It’s a desire to be remembered as a pioneer and innovator in art. I never thought about this, but what I paint represents who I am and where I want to be. I want to be in the “space” of artistic memories. I have a desire for zenith.

How has the meaning of the word ‘zenith’ evolved or been applied in contexts outside of astronomy since its introduction into the English language?

The word “zenith” originates in astronomy and describes the point directly above an observer in the sky or celestial sphere. The term has been metaphorically extended in ordinary language to mean the highest point or peak of something, such as a career or an achievement.

Etymologically, “zenith” derives from the Arabic phrase “samt ar-rā’s,” which means “direction of the head” or “path above the head.” When it was borrowed into Medieval Latin, the phrase was rendered as “senit” or “cenit,” influenced by the Latin word “semita,” meaning “path.” This term eventually evolved into the Old French “cenith,” which entered English as “zenith” in the late 14th century.

Thus, the term’s journey from Arabic astronomy into European languages and eventually into English reflects a rich cultural and scientific exchange during the Middle Ages. Adopting and adapting “zenith” signifies the historical interactions between different linguistic and cultural groups, particularly in science and astronomy.

Contemplating the Zenith: Beyond the Celestial Apex

In “Flat Emotion,” I contemplate the zenith of human aspiration. The term’ zenith,’ derived from the Arabic word “samt,” meaning “direction” or “path,” originally described the direction pointing directly above a particular location in the sky. It has come to signify the peak or the pinnacle of any given path, the apex of one’s achievements.

Emotional Peaks and Valleys: The Astronauts’ Inner Landscape

As an artist, I desired to capture the zenith in the physical sense as these brave astronauts approached the heavens and, in the metaphorical sense, represented the pinnacle of human endeavor. The act of reaching the moon was a literal and figurative ascension to the highest point of collective ambition.

In this painting, the muted tones and the obscured visages of the astronauts juxtaposed against the backdrop of a dreamlike vastness evoke the silent drama of reaching the zenith. The bold streaks and the subdued chaos that ripple across the canvas mirror the tumultuous journey of reaching such heights—the emotional intensity, the tranquility, the solitude, and the profound sense of accomplishment that comes with attaining a long-sought-after goal.

“Flat Emotion,” then, is not merely a depiction of astronauts; it reflects the human condition – perhaps my own inner representation. It is about the striving, the yearning to reach our zenith, and the complex emotions that envelop us when we stand on the precipice of history, looking out into the infinite.

Flat Emotion in progress with zenith, Bartosz Beda Studio, 24
Zenith of Human Aspiration: ‘Flat Emotion’ by Bartosz Beda – progress of oil painting.

Literary Crescendos: Echoing Fitzgerald’s Gatsby

In creating “Flat Emotion,” my brushstrokes reached for the zenith, striving to encompass the pivotal moment of human endeavor that literature, film, and history have long celebrated. The zenith, a term that speaks to the apex of celestial bodies, became a metaphor within my canvas for the pinnacle of human achievement, much like the narratives woven by great storytellers. But, really? What if not?

What if Zenith is Only My Imagination?

What if, in reality, my interpretation of “Flat Emotion” and its zenith is a unique vision solely perceived through my artistic lens and not necessarily apparent or resonant with others? This possibility leads to a reflective inquiry about the essence and impact of art.

In the realm of artistic expression, the subjective nature of perception is a fundamental aspect. If my portrayal of the zenith in “Flat Emotion” is seen differently by others or perhaps not seen at all, it prompts a reflection on the role of the artist and the audience in interpreting art. It raises questions about the universality of themes and the individuality of interpretation.

This scenario underscores the importance of personal perspective in art. The zenith in my work might be a clear metaphor for the pinnacle of human achievement to me, but to others, it could evoke entirely different sentiments or ideas. 

This diversity in interpretation is inevitable and one of art’s beauties. It allows many narratives and emotional responses to coexist within the same piece.

Thus, the real point of the zenith in “Flat Emotion” goes beyond a singular narrative. It becomes a catalyst for engagement, discussion, and exploration of perspectives. It highlights that the value of art lies not only in the artist’s intention but also in the myriad ways it is perceived and experienced by others. 

In this light, whether the zenith in my painting aligns with others’ perceptions, it fulfills its purpose by evoking thought, emotion, and dialogue, which are the core essences of art.

Cinematic Bravery: ‘The Right Stuff’ Revisited

In literature, the word ‘zenith’ often symbolizes the culmination of a character’s journey. It echoes the crescendo in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” where Gatsby reaches the zenith of his romantic quest, a moment as fleeting as the astronauts’ dance on the lunar surface just as the moon’s zenith in the night sky is a momentary command of the heavens, Gatsby’s zenith is brief, a stark contrast to the enduring legacy of the Apollo missions.

Cinematic history offers “The Right Stuff,” a film chronicling the lives of the first U.S. astronauts. Their zeniths are portrayed with gritty realism, juxtaposed against the backdrop of space—a vast, uncharted expanse. In my painting, the abstraction and disintegration of form echo these astronauts’ emotional and physical journey as they transcend earthly bounds to touch the zenith of the skies.

Apollo’s Legacy: Humanity’s Collective Zenith

Historically, the zenith is embodied in the Apollo missions themselves. When humanity left footprints on the moon, it was a zenith for the astronauts and humankind—a leap into the unknown that expanded our world. In “Flat Emotion,” I sought to crystallize that moment when human courage and curiosity propelled us to the zenith of exploration and discovery.

This painting, therefore, is not just an artistic ambition but a mosaic of references, a confluence of the zenith moments that define our collective history, literature, and cinematic heritage. It’s an invitation to you, the viewer, to reflect on your life’s zeniths and the stories that have shaped our world.

Reflections on the Zenith: The Viewer’s Journey

In contemplating “Flat Emotion,” I’m drawn to the duality of the zenith—the peak is not merely a triumph but also a point of solitude. In this space, the euphoria of success meets the austerity of isolation. While a homage to the grandeur of human achievement, this painting does not shy away from critically examining what it means to reach such heights.

The zenith of the astronauts’ journey, captured in the fragmented visages and the chaotic abstraction of my canvas, also symbolizes the alienation that can accompany great endeavors. The starkness of space and the lunar surface’s silence reflects the sometimes cold reality of ambition. It’s a reminder that the zenith is not always warmth and light; there’s a shadow to these heights, an emotional flatness that can accompany even the most extraordinary achievements.

The Descent: Post-Zenith Realities

History tells us that after the zenith comes the descent. The astronauts who reached the moon-faced a return to Earth, to a life that could never be the same. Literature and film have often critiqued this aspect of the zenith—consider Hemingway’s heroes, who, after their great battles, must confront the mundane and the changed reality of everyday life.

Complexities of the Zenith: Triumphs and Shadows

The zenith is a complex, multifaceted concept—a peak and a precipice. In “Flat Emotion,” I engage with this complexity, presenting a narrative that honors the bravery required to reach the zenith while acknowledging the profound introspection such a journey can provoke. The painting invites you to consider the full spectrum of the zenith experience—the light and the shadow, the public triumph and the private reckoning.

Are You Looking for Art Zenith?

Maybe you’re searching for a burst of color to enliven your living room, a story told in oils for your bedroom or a piece that echoes your soul’s whispers. I invite you into my sanctuary studio, where emotions and brushstrokes intertwine to create a vivid art tapestry.

You won’t find ordinary landscapes or predictable portraits in this haven of creativity. Each of my creations is a gateway to a distinct vision, a narrative eager to be shared. My canvases are alive with emotion, rich with stories, and longing to resonate with souls like yours.

These artworks are more than mere decorations; they are companions, confidantes, and catalysts for conversation. They will breathe life into your spaces, spark discussions, and offer a haven from the mundane. 

So take your time, meander through my gallery, and let the right painting find its way to you.

Remember, art is more than just an adornment for walls. It’s a bridge to undiscovered worlds, a language of the soul, and a flicker of inspiration waiting to light up. Let’s embark on this journey of exploration together.

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Bartosz Beda

Bartosz Beda, an acclaimed artist born in Poland in 1984, has established a significant presence in the international art world. Beda's journey in art began with his studies at the Manchester School of Art in the UK, where he relocated in 2008. His talent was recognized early on, leading to a scholarship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden, Germany, and a fellowship in Rome, Italy. Beda's work has been widely recognized for its compelling approach to painting, often exploring political and social themes through a vibrant and dynamic visual language.Beda worked in the film industry, contributing to animations that received notable accolades, including an Oscar Prize. Now residing in the United States, his work continues to evolve, marked by a relentless pursuit of artistic exploration and a deep commitment to expressing the complexities of the human experience.His art, featuring in prestigious exhibitions and collections globally, positions him as a critical voice in contemporary art.Explore his work and journey further at his online store, studio website, YouTube channel, Instagram, and Pinterest.