“You really have seen something!” You exclaimed to me, when I opened the door of the tiny store room. The light fell softly from the low wattage bulb on the low ceiling and it accentuated the glow of the vertical painting. I hadn’t opened up the store for anyone but I had done so for You because, the way You had been watching the paintings, I thought that You really had seen something.
Our internal experiences are delightfully heterogeneous for sure. Just as surely, there is a mapping in the way You and I react to the impulses in the world around. I understand that You are not seeking patterns from random ambient noise but that the organisation of the markings have a certain resonance for You. I wait for my observations of phenomena to form multiple layers, sedimenting over weeks or even years, before I cast about for the form.
When I had come back to You, after conversing with other visitors, You told me that it was the thrill of the colours that helped You recognise the identity of the canvas painting at once.
What brings on that extra-normal sensation of meaningfulness? The play of colour, texture, shape and structure certainly work together in an efficacious painting. I listen for these insights from viewers and followers of my work.
When You express Your desire to “Share a noon time Mojito with this painting full of life and warmth” or “a gin and tonic of an evening with this serene, intense painting full of heart” I know You are not anthropomorphising but referring to a humanising element.
The neuro-psychiatrist Eric Kandel writes that “The images in art, like all images, represent not so much reality as the viewer's perceptions, imaginations, expectations, and knowledge of other images - images recalled from memory."
While creating an abstract painting from one of Maarten Visser’s graphic scores there is indeterminateness in how ‘performers’ interpret and execute the suggestions. "My intention is to let things be themselves" said John Cage, but I catch myself intervening to ‘’make things work together”.
An indeterminacy arising from a multiplicity of possible readings is present in my kinetic compositional forms and the performer doesn’t focus on that while creating. Often, especially with dancers, the flow of gesture and paint are central. What makes them abstract: they are propositions, whose veracity is tested by layering of sensorial or empirical feedback. Multiple subjective readings from how a certain work affects each of a number of viewers, for the most part not aware of other responses.
I pick up the fact that You have gone from calling the work ‘peinture acrylique’ to tableau and that, now, You want a longer conversation with one of them, ‘lui’.
Observation, for You is that conversation, that daily discovery. In the painterly process of observing too there may be emotional ballast attached to every new discovery; that little thrill of seeing a detail for the first time, probably an evolutionary skill helping one recall it better. This pattern dissection and reconstruction is an exercise mainly. The resultant mental image doesn’t coalesce into a referent, it populates an archetype library.
I am extremely happy of course, that You want to continue the conversation at home. I am sure I can drop in one day and have a word with that one too!
You have a small and unique collection of mine, I realised the other day. I watched the one that you like to call ‘Caligula’ and wonder what of your wonderful creative powers helped you reconstruct that work in what is certainly a unique reading. Or, is it that You see in the painting a clear identity? I have never given that work a name. Lately, though, I have started naming some of my new abstract art works.
I had a thrill spying that early work of mine which you have on your wall, sitting close to an Achuthan. That one had a clear and unique subject or referant. It was a rusty shield bearer tree on the corner of Subbarao Avenue and College Road. In the late 80’s, it had a street lamp below it, an old mercury vapour one and as night came along, with the lamp slowly warming, the tree presented a particular play of light, shadow, tint and shade. For many years, before and after that painting, I really saw something there! Something of that tree suffuses the work, a jaunty cheerfulness. The lamp went and was replaced by newer street lights and subsequently the tree too has disappeared. But one can continue to relate to that tree, believe in it, though it no longer exists in reality.
A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer.