Sunday, 4 July 2010

objecting to abstract

It's not that I didn't know that it was simply a matter of shapes and patterns,
before that moment two years go. But somehow the knowing changed.

A lot of people might look at these two paintings and try to decide which one was better than the other. A painter might feel immediately inadequate in front of Cezanne's wonderful appleyness, fearing that he or she could never 'capture' real forms in this way. But it seems to me now that it's nothing to do, really, with the capturing of forms. Both paintings are just paint. Paint which either makes you feel something, or it doesn't. You could, in theory, be drawn in to the one on the left, despite its lack of cleverness or depth, because it evokes something for you - knowing it or not, you might suddenly feel a Sri Lankan forest in monsoon rain; the corner of a dream; a sense of possibility. The one on the right might, on the other hand, just make you think of old geezers poncing around in smocks. Either way, they're both just paint.

Not that paint that makes you feel is very popular these days. I was thinking about what Kathleen said about the body, and it suddenly occured to me that a conceptual approach to making images stays up there in the head. An aesthetic or moody response is, on the other hand, an issue for the gut.... Now don't anyone start in on the problems of simplistic binaries. I know! But I'd also say that Derrida never said we weren't allowed them, only that we have to look carefully at the work they're doing. And for me right now, simplistic ol' head/body is doing some powerful work....


  1. Hmm - not sure which is best here: a considered response or one from the gut ;-)

  2. I'm all for considering. And analysing, and thinking. Perhaps it's the one at the expense of the other that bothers me? Or a deep-seated suspicion of talk about painting. Not because I don't think talking about painting is a viable activity. But it seems to me that talk can kill so much. Thinking can kill so much.



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