This one reminded me of a drawing in ink and watercolour.
.. always moving, blown by wind, dissolving into the moisture in the air evoked by the mixture of ink and water on the paper. They are always out there in a place that is not me.
From Paul Kahn's review of drawings by Gao Xingjian in the latest issue of Cerise Press.
A place that is not me: what a wonderful evocation of looking at art! And it struck me in particular because T J Clark, in a recent talk at the London Review Bookshop, said something related, in less poetic but not less shockingly resonant words.
I'd encountered T J Clark through his recent writing in the LRB. These few articles were not enough for me to form a view of his approach to art history, but I was quickly engaged by writing as exhilaratingly personal as it was knowledgeable. I especially liked his piece on the Cezanne exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery a few months ago - both the paintings and the review spoke so much to the thoughts stirred up by the blogpost Parmanu had written around the same time on Edward Hopper and the eternal moment.
Tim Clark and Wendy Lesser, talking at the LRBookshop about their books*, which share the impossible project of putting into words that which defies words, but is conveyed by painting or music, were exciting if frustrating, as such brief discussions perhaps always are. The ultimate appeal of a work of art, he said - and Paul Kahn's words reminded me of this - is all about escape from self, escape from here. [Another kind of moment - the 'yes!' moment when someone articulates the thing you've always known.]
Painting, Clark went on to say, offers the non-textual, non-grammatical; it exceeds or eludes verbal language. So is there a contradiction, a violence even, in approaching the non verbal through words?, Wendy Lesser asked (she was fascinating too - I have to read one of her books). Not violence, he responded; it's a contradiction, yes, but it's what people do, what language does. Language must struggle, he said, with what it is in a fine painting that most compels - the momentary, the uncontrollable that materialises, confirming or undermining the structure, the form of the work.
These notions dance in my mind: 'the momentary', 'escape', 'a place that is not me'.
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* T J Clark, The Sight of Death: an Experiment in Art Writing
* Wendy Lesser, Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets