Neosymbolism is a movement current in the visual arts genre. Active in the movement are artists in the United States, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Canada.
The core philosophy of Neosymbolism, like that of its predecessor Symbolism, is the idea of "correspondences", the "emblematic order" of a world in which technology and the industrial reality have not yet drowned the forces of mysticism and belief. In a world where visual images exist to generate sales and revenue, Neosymbolist imagery attempts to preserve the relationship between image and the human soul. The imagery is necessarily representational rather than abstract. It borders on the narrative, but stops short of the commercial trap of illustration to convey an idea for profit. Artists like Norman Rockwell could qualify as Neosymbolist painters in that they adopt a social and cultural undercurrent and then convey it in terms of the cultural cliche—the image as representative of core aspects of the culture. The same is not true, however, of the generally accepted idea of commercial illustration which attempts more to influence cultural, political, and economic ideology than it tries to communicate an existential reality.
Neosymbolism is fairly well-hidden within the culture, with few references and almost no broad-based visibility. In 1988, Nick A_Demos published a book in two editions. This was the first visible sign of an idea underlying a Neosymbolist philosophy. A_Demos then developed this first book of Neosymbolism into paintings. He was also the first to use the word "Neosymbolism", thus coining it.
There has also been a separate group using the Neosymbolism name for the creation of an international collective representing a number of artists who share the goals of preserving the visual art of Symbolism (the foundation of the ideas associated with the term Neosymbolism) in its original and essential sense. This preservation, as opposed to the "non-sense" of various philosophies that have evolved since the late nineteenth century and have deviated from the core Symbolist philosophy.
The Neosymbolist movement was born spontaneously in numerous locations across the globe. Many groups use the word but also do not want to be limited to only this discipline. A group of Danish Neosymbolists defined their movement thus:
The founder of the Canadian Neosymbolists, meanwhile, describes the foundations of their movement in Brief Summary of the Foundations of Canadian Neosymbolism, written by their founder, Gary F. Manzo.
Another international Neosymbolist collective that began exhibiting as a group in 2001 has a simpler definition:
This perspective of the Neosymbolist movement can be seen as a reaction against abstraction, an attempt to weave artists’ intellectual and spiritual experiences into the fabric of their work. Furthermore, the Neosymbolists’ palette is not limited to the use of words and ancient symbols of ideas, even as these remain powerful tools of expression.
The exhibition history of these groups, including their collaborations with the Danish Neosymbolist collective, are documented in reviews in the following periodicals. More information about this group can also be found at www.neosymbolism.eu
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