I have just learned about Duende, as explained by the poet Federico García Lorca, in a lecture he gave in Buenos Aires in 1933, “Play and Theory of the Duende”. (In Search of Duende, García Lorca, Federico; Maurer, Christopher (Ed.) New Directions 1998).
My understanding is that Duende is the quality of extreme emotional intensity, for example as experienced in Love or the grief of Death, typically. What has surprised me is this; I was taught that Western Art was conditioned by a dialectic between the Dionysian, intoxication, dreaming, the suspension of Self, and the Apollonian, clarity, knowledge, the transcendence of Self. Suddenly I’m understanding that there is a third pole to Art’s foundations, one that doesn’t arrive at the dissolution of the Self, but rather is a deep dive into emotion, and the Self, only. There’s no relief from our human condition, or any understanding of Truth, but only the expression of the strongest emotions.
In the book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard remarks on the intensity of the human emotions which cause pain, and why, as a species, we should have evolved these, to such strength. And the answer must be, that the opposite, the Joy of living, and of Love, are the evolutionary benefit of our emotional extremity.
Lately I’ve had a great satisfaction in using some very strong color in my sculpture. I know it is because of the pure emotional effect the color has. I feel the need to do something more with this.