Hare’s pelt sky. Even now a clear wing writes. (Paul Celan)
Art is the experience in the space between the viewer and the artwork, whether or not this quickening sense of wordless communication is put into language.
Other experiences - of love, beauty, intuition, loss, grief, the poetic moment, the pre-verbal, and the traumatic - may also resist precise articulation because words are insufficient. And figurative visual depiction is also insufficient. It might illustrate the context - the wrapper - of the experience, but cannot express it's core.
But these experiences invite repeated attempts to express or clarify them, even in the absence of exact words or exact images.
Celan's bird wing inscribing the sky, splicing astonishing metaphors together, marks this inarticulate moment charged with meaning.
My current abstract work maps non-verbal perceptions with mark-making that stands in for the coming-into-being of sensory, gut-level embodied perceptions. Their degree of abstraction speaks of a texture, or tenor, of experience for which descriptive images do not exist.
Their visual language is generated when the external visual field intersects with the interior landscape at the borders of the body and the linguistic.
Their notations include veils of translucent watercolour and screens of illegible script, which disrupt or obscure clear seeing, knowing or description..
Elements of direct visual experience linger on in the paintings' shapes, colours and partial forms.
But forms and marks reveal a sub-verbal interplay of external visual cues, and in-the-moment improvisations, erasures and additions which interact together until they settle into a resolved visual form. The coming-into-being of the painting mimics the coming-into-being of thoughts and feelings.
Very occasionally, I still make a precise, figurative pencil drawing because it re-calibrates and sharpens my visual sensibility and helps decisive mark-making in abstract work.
But my work has long revealed greater interest in the things that we can't see, rather than things we can.