Rules are made to be broken is an old truth. Note that this is not to say that laws may be broken. A law is a regulation that must be followed. It may be challenged and if necessary may be changed but while it stands it must be followed. Rules however are meant to guide us. Rules of etiquette, manners and behaviour. They are the usually the result of experience and agreement.
If you wish to play a game then you must agree to follow the rules. If you don’t want to follow the rules then don’t play the game. But is Art a game? Are there rules and do we have to follow them? Well, sort of, yes. That is in the sense that if you want a certain outcome then it is advisable to follow the appropriate rules.
It is a bit like grammar. These are rules that guide us. Unless you are a grammar nazi you can disregard them as you wish. Youngsters certainly ignore traditional grammar and spelling when texting. On the other hand the consequence of poor grammar can be confusion and misunderstanding. At times ambiguity can be amusing, at other times it is simply discourteous and annoying.
In traditional realist painting there are rules that guide us in creating the illusion of three dimensional space on a two dimensional canvas. If you are Escher you may well disregard them for the sake of illusionist whimsy. Otherwise the rules of aerial perspective and relative size serve us well.
The same applies to rules of composition. One such rule is that people should walk into the picture, not out of it. In the painting above I disregarded this rule because of the preferred narrative. The full title of the painting is,
”Evening, Monaco…’Leaving the world to darkness and to me…’”
From Grey’s Elegy, it recognises the quiet melancholy on any beach as evening draws in and people leave. Hil and I were walking Indy down at Monaco one evening and as the sun set and walkers were leaving it brought these words to mind. It seemed to me that the rule didn’t work in this case. I rather wanted the slight sense of unease as the protagonists turn away into the dusk.
I think that ignoring the rule works in this particular case.