The Horizon Line :God’s invention or Giotto’s
The very first line which lands on a canvas for a landscape painting is undoubtedly the horizon line, the line demarcating the earth/ocean from the sky. Then, the artist determines the time of the day, puts a few trees here and there (or something else), brushes a few colours, and the painting is done. What took an instant for the artist to determine his or her composition, took six days to God to set up its own (Genesis 1; 31). When the Italian proto-renaissance artist Giotto (below) put the horizon line on his frescoes, he managed not only to repeat in a few minutes what God did in six days, but also to reaffirm its presence as a responsible human being.
The horizon line is indeed a very symbolic line. By establishing it in your composition, you tell the beholder where to stand, what to look for, hence creating an intimate relationship between you and the spectator of your art, the horizon line of the painting being parallel to the ground on which this beholder stands. A symbolic line indeed, since it gives you perspective on life. This is probably the reason we love the ocean and the desert, two highly metaphysical locations of our earth. The horizon line, being always in front of our eyes, invites us to relax. The void, the emptiness of the vast expanse just in front of us permits to re-establish contact with our soul, to reconnect with who we truly are. During this intimate revaluation, we are deciding the future composition of our existence, our new view points, and our new vanishing points.
The horizon line never leaves you, even in pure darkness. If there are buildings in front of you, the horizon line is behind these structures, or any type of structures, may they be manmade or natural. If you go up, if follows you up; if you go down, it goes down with you. When sitting in an airplane, it is just in front your eyes since it is always at your eye-level line. It is your destiny and you cannot evade it. When you move in a casual way, the horizon line is always at your eye-level. However, if you walk while looking up or down, you will certainly fall or bump into something. Looking up at all times will bring forth problems; the same applies when you are looking down. When looking all the time to the horizon line, it will invite you to adopt momentarily a point of view, may it be in the near or a more distant future. Contemplating the horizon line makes you aware of the time left in your life; it is a line emphasizing consciousness.
When looking at your canvas, the very bottom represents the present, the now, where you are at this very moment. Below the bottom belongs to the past, something which doesn’t exist anymore. Up to the very distant horizon line lies your future. Now, which direction to take?