Abstraction & Wilderness

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Suggesting that painting could be for itself, an abstract painting attempting to purge all traces or afterimages of nature in order to do the work against nature: this is the proposition of the Abstractionists that sought a counter-nature in the medium. The new order of experience that would put its faith in the Sign. It would be one where reference is put at an end and art lives off its own resources: the painting as a thing that may be self-contained. They would fail miserably because painting, out of all the arts, is Earth. Painting cannot cancel nature because its medium is itself nature. Out of all of the arts, painting is perhaps the closest to this affirmation of Earth, given that which constitutes writing in the medium is itself based on geologic materialization.

A dynamic impression in constant metamorphosis, connection, disconnection, absorption, diffusion,  sedimentation, erosion – the specific formations that may exist in the wilderness are not the only possible alliances: all the topologies are open onto other possible positions, always declaring themselves not to be stable.

The wilderness folds upon itself endlessly in all directions.
The wilderness stretches into unseen chasms: fields within fields within fields.
The wilderness is constantly transforming.

Beings, forms, planes within beings, forms, planes: the field teaches the painter to affirm metaphors of matter as contingency at every moment. -Amused by contingency from inside of it.

The wilderness is incarnate even in its own shadow, preserved in the “discrete existence of objects.”[Riviere]

And perhaps what exists in the wilderness does not appear as silhouette (single, unified perspective mapping and extending its presence over the contours of the things): instead, it is juxtaposition in constant slippage.

An aesthetics of the wilderness is rapture as form engendering force – of nature as raputrous, caught up in its own excitation.

A rejection of an ‘objective’ view of nature that is really just anti-nature, imposing upon Becoming normative engagements and conceptions of nature that end up being pure instrumentalism. There is no unified position towards which there is “nature”: each interpretation is necessarily contingent and restrictive.

The wilderness finds creativity in uncertainty. What the art of the wilderness teaches is that nature is fundamentally experimental: “boundlessly extravagant” [Nietzsche].

But even this is not a ‘true’ interpretation of nature. The wilderness does not function within the human interpretative framework: the wilderness is something strange and uncanny. The moment we begin to gain  perspective upon one of its myriad of folds, the moment it slips.

As artists we ought never believe we can restrict the ways in which nature can express itself, yet we have done so, probably out of fear: it brings us inevitably up against our own human finitude. The aspects of the personality of the painter is of little consequence in the face of the ubiquity of the wilderness. The wise among us use painting as a device to efface our identity, as a permission to go ahead and cipher-out its filigree constructions, in favor of the rhythmic, almost autopotic, expressional script of nature’s own ability to create an image. To confront the ‘wilderness’ as a method in painting means to approach the physical medium not in an evocative manner (i.e. integrating painting into the personality or the unconscious) but rather through an aim at emergent forms, conjuring of spontaneous processes that take place in geologic nature.

 

 

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