Monday, June 18, 2012

June 16 
Nicole Zehr

To look, to see, to glimpse, to glance, to notice, to observe. The experience of sight is remarkable. This of course is an understatement. It has to be because it is a statement and how could language relate the experience of one of the senses?
This little painting, smaller than a sheet of typing paper, held my attention for two hours. My eyes never grew tired of looking at it because it continued to yield a changing optical experience. The background would push forward then seem to recede. I say background yet his is an abstract painting. Until its not. There is the suggestion of space here, there is distance, more distant distance. There is a horizon. There is the impression of a centered form.  There is a form in front of this one though it seems to be moving. A wave, maybe?

I see a boat, a ship. And then, I can’t not see this form as a ship, this painting as nautical. But it continues to change. There is a push and movement of atmosphere. There is the light from the farthest distance pushing through to the surface of the painting. There is almost the impression of wave-like motion. How can this be as there is not a recognizable form in the painting?

When I saw paintings by John Constable in London I was overtaken by their strangeness. It was not the just image but the way the surface of the painting seem to change as I looked at it, change in the corner of my eye as I looked away. This almost created the sensation of the drastic weather that the painting portrayed. Or Corot, the way the trees in his paintings always seem to be moving. The light patches of paint on the surfaces of these paintings feel like sunlight passing through leaves on a windy day. Or Turner whose land and seascapes more abstract than representational. They seem to manufacture light.

This painting uses an abstract vocabulary to render (as I see it) light, space, movement, and atmosphere. This painting gives me the easy satisfaction of looking at a landscape painting and the uneasiness of not knowing what I see.

I must also mention the wonderful, irregular, edges of this painting. You have to see them. They render this painting an object as well as an image. There is not an inch of this painting that is not disorienting and wonderful. I have written this in the present tense because the two hour exhibition of this painting is over but I can’t stop looking at it..


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