The clearing and concealing of what is
“… if a painter has source and belief in that source, then form will come. I want to be clear here in that form in itself will never give source.” What is your source? “The closest I can come is . . . the promise and longing that I feel in nature. I don’t know what that longing and promise is, but I know when it is and is not in the painting.” —Berthot, in conversation
This article on Jake Berthot's art making has been an important read for me. I return to this writing again and again, not only because of the references to nature and Emerson and Rilke and spirituality, but because of that quote above. It is a reminder that 'real' art is source driven. It is intentional. It evolves in the making and the form reveals itself. And it gives to you and you give to it.
Because that source gets overlooked in our quick editing of images, I thought I'd resurrect my blog and begin writing again about where these paintings come from. Sharing, with whomever cares to read, what I'm reading, feeling, seeing and being inspired by. I work very hard in my efforts to create paintings that are not just shallow surfaces to skip off of. I want more than anything for my paintings to reflect meaning and depth.
'The Clearing and Concealing of What Is"
There is a painting by Joan Mitchell titled 'clearing' which has moved my soul for a long while. The next time the Whitney exhibits it, I will be on a plane to see it. The painting is made up of three large panels depicting lavender forms with open centers, like the Buddhist symbol for no ego, that float above white atmospheric spaces that despite their lightness veil energetic marks and the physicality of the paint itself. But it's not all lightness. Dark squares of color anchor the spaces from above, as if daring the weightlessness to stay grounded. Judith Bernstock writes about these paintings "Mitchell's practice of viewing her paintings from a distance, in order to perceive them in their entirety, recalls the aims that Baudelaire advocates for the artist: a concern with the whole and with the translation of nature's intentions into a simplified, luminous language."
she further states: "Mitchell describes 'clearing': "That's a territory. Well, it's specific as a territory. It's a nice word. It's not clearing out the house. It's a lyric space."
and from Heidegger: "truth, as the clearing and concealing of what is, happens in being composed, as a poet composes a poem. All art, as the letting happen of the advent of the truth of what is, is as such, essentially poetry. It is due to art's poetic nature that, in the midst of what is, art breaks open an open place, in whose openness everything is other than usual."
I'm attracted to many things in Joan Mitchell's art and I'm sure I'll elaborate on them all in future posts, but here in particular it is her ability to energize white. It's as if the forms or the figures are only there to support the luminosity and language of the white--as if it is in the negative spaces where things happen.
I began this painting with those ideas. I chose a neutral palette because I wanted to work the surface, explore mark making, find ways of navigating a space and in turn, reveal and conceal the painting in its making without the considerations of color. <copyright 2017, Sharon Kingston, 'the clearing and concealing of what is', 48x60" oil on canvas, available through the artist>