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Not to be confused with Hartal.

Paul Hartal (born 1936) is a Canadian painter and poet, born in Szeged, Hungary. He has created the term "Lyrical Conceptualism" to characterize his style in both painting and poetry, and has created a manifesto to describe his thesis.[1]

Biographical Information

Hartal emigrated to Israel in 1957 and on to Montreal, Quebec in 1973. He earned a B.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1964, an M.A. from Concordia University in 1977, and a Ph.D. in Education and Art from Columbia Pacific University, San Rafael, California in 1986. In 1987 Hartal founded the Centre for Art, Science, and Technology in Montreal, which he directs. He is an honorary curator of the Israel Museum.

Hartal paints in an expressionistic style with additional elements such as photographs.

"Lyrical Conceptualism does not impose any formal limitations on the artist’s freedom. It merely suggests. Instead of competition it advocates cooperation. In our post-industrial society, science and technology determine our lifestyle. Consequently, art must concern itself with science and technology. However, science and technology should not be our masters but our servants" (1975).

Hartal has published books of poetry, a book outlining his manifesto, and a novel. He has had solo exhibitions in Germany, New York, Montreal, and Montreux. His work is in the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and other galleries in Italy, Israel, and Korea.

Lyco Art: Hartal’s Art Theory

Lyco art, or lyrical conceptualism, is a term coined by Hartal.[2]

In 1975, Hartal published A Manifesto on Lyrical Conceptualism,[3][4] introducing Lycoism as a new art idea on the “periodic table of art.” In this work, Hartal proposes a theory of art which runs contrary to what he claims is the traditional belief, that emotion and intellect are at odds with each other.

Hartal maintains that throughout history, art has alternated between the opposing poles of the Apollonian and the Dionysian, the rational and the emotional, swinging on the pendulum of the creative process. Thus he proposes that the aesthetic styles of the Greco-Roman world and of the Renaissance are basically harmonious, both valuing the geometrical and conceptual, while both Gothic and Baroque art are characterized by sinuosity, passion, and lyricism. Similarly, regarding Modern Art movements, he theorizes that Impressionism, Fauvism, Dada, and Surrealism all derive from the irrational impulses of the human psyche, whereas movements such as Cubism, De Stijl, Constructivism, and Geometric Abstraction are more closely related to the rational realm of creativity.

In Mazes for the Mind, Clifford Pickover draws attention to Hartal's view that we need the imagination, the insight, and the lateral reasoning faculty, as well as human values, which are excluded from the rigid methodology of science but are intrinsic to art: "The present human condition calls for the rise of a new, inclusive form of culture in which art should play a most prominent role."[5]

The art critic Balint Szombathy notes that lyrical conceptualism encapsulates no less a fusion of polarities than the term-amalgams of lyrical expressionism, or lyrical abstraction. It is possible to characterize these diametrically opposed juxtapositions, he says, as attempts to equalize incompatible elements for the sake of synthesis.

However, in introducing the notion of Lycoism, Hartal did not intend to form a new post-conceptualist splinter-trend; instead, his intention was the creation of a new philosophy of art in which the tearing down of the boundaries between art and science, the interlacement of the intuitive and the exact, and incorporation of the lyrical and the geometrical play a central role.[6]

Concepts and Ideals of Lyco Art

Lyco art identifies the meaning of art with its life-serving purpose. Concerning itself with cultural transformation and the human condition, it seeks to expand the boundaries of aesthetics.[7]

Lyco Art creates a conscious bridge between the impulsive, intuitional, and planned elements of the creative process,[8] thereby moving along the whole continuum of formative energies. This creative process represents the interaction of emotion and intellect, wherein the passion of logic and the logic of passion are inexorably interwoven through the voyage of aesthetic consciousness.

In applying theory to practice in design and painting, Lycoism finds its expression in coded colors and forms. Accordingly, warm hues and amorphous shapes might correspond to emotion and the irrational, while cold colors and geometric forms might express the rational and the logical.

In addition, since science and technology impact so much of modern lifestyle during the electronic age, Lycoism views the relationship of art, science, and technology as a pivotal concern. Lycoism refuses to polarize science and art; instead, it seeks to unify aesthetics and ethics in works which involve the use of science and technology by the artist in the creation of beauty.

In accordance with these premises, Hartal formed The Centre for Art, Science and Technology in Montreal during the 1980s. The Centre has implemented a variety of interdisciplinary projects exploring the connections between several branches of arts and sciences, including painting, poetry, music, architecture, communication, artificial intelligence, mathematics, cosmology, and space exploration.[9][10]



  1. ^ Interview with Paul (paragraph 20)
  2. ^ Canadian Federation of Poets: Featured poet - Paul Hartal
  3. ^ Hartal, Paul. The Brush and the Compass: The Interface Dynamics of Art and Science. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988, p. V.
  4. ^ Exler, Elizabeth. “Paul Hartal: A Manifesto on Lyrical Conceptualism.” Manhattan Arts. November–December 1992, p. 14.
  5. ^ Clifford A. Pickover (1992). Mazes for the Mind. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 277-79.
  6. ^ Szombathy, Balint. "A lirai konceptualizmus muveszete: Paul Hartal elmeleti-gyakorlati torekvesei." Uj Forras. April 1991, No. 4.
  7. ^ Hartal, Paul. “The songs of the double helix: symmetry and lyrical conceptualism.” Symmetry 2000 Part 2. ed. Hargittai, I. and T.C. Laurent. London: Portland Press, 2002, pp. 503-518.
  8. ^ Interview with Paul Hartal (Poetic Mind, 2008, paragraph 20.)
  9. ^ Costa, Barbara. “Dell’ ‘aeropittura’ futurista alla ‘Space Art’.“ Epiphaneia/2. Universita degli studi di Salerno, March 1997, pp. 38-42.
  10. ^ Hartal, Paul. “Homage to a Blue Planet: Aeronautical and Astronomical Artworks.” Leonardo: Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. V.25.2, 1992, pp. 211- 215.