Painting and Catastrophe

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Our relations to the environment are increasingly catastrophic.

The geologic record – earth’s historical horizon – is filled with one catastrophic event after another. We reside upon the ruins of catastrophes.

All painters know catastrophe intimately.

In painting, catastrophe is always just under the order of things – indeed, the rhythm that emerges arises out of this ground.

Deleuze says, writing on Bacon, “there is no painter who has not had this experience of the chaos-germ, where he or she no longer sees anything and risks foundering: the collapse of visual coordinates.” He follows, “painters here confront the greatest danger both for their work and for themselves.” [p83] This is Cezanne’s “abyss” or Klee’s “chaos.”

Unlike the other arts, Deleuze says, painting integrates its own catastrophe. Painters pass through catastrophe themselves: embracing chaos by attempting to emerge from it.

With expressionist methods of Abstraction, paintings are pushed into a frenetic limit: they arise out of a close encounter with the catastrophic, as a chaos of proximity. The painter discovers rhythms or orders within the material where chaos follows at every step.

At the edge of this encounter is the abandonment of visual sovereignty and even of visual control. This is the blindness of the painter.

In the emergent kind of painting, where the expressionism of the Abstraction is of its own accord, i.e. displaced and apart from the dominance of what the eye wishes to have done, the result is an “all over” affect where the eye finds no rest; the painting has become a manual space. It imposes processes, not just upon the hand, but onto the eye: it makes visible the tactile quality of catastrophe.

With the instant impact event of the painting, the work restores the world to an equality of probabilities; a power of vibrations and nonlocalization.

Catastrophe implies the collapse of all figurative givens. The geology of painting emerges by passing through the chaos in order to find beauty in the ruins.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Art

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