Marek Tobolewski, ‘Sym’, Tarpey Gallery
Marek Tobolewski ~ Sym ~ Tarpey Gallery ©The Artist, Image by courtesy of the artist.
In The Art of Seeing, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson show that the aesthetic encounter is an example of the flow state (deep involvement in, and effortless progression of an activity for its own sake). It’s a naturally occurring trance. But what kind of trance is it? When I gazed up into the sky, in The Deer Shelter yesterday, was I in the same kind of trance as when looking at Tobolewski’s work? I would argue that the two responses are similar, yet with interesting differences. The Deer Shelter trance was somehow more outward, more expansive, than the ‘Sym’ trance that seems more focused, more inward. The pleasure, for me, comes from tracing the line with my eye/mind, leading to a state that is more like study than reverie. I find that I am talking to myself as I follow the walk that the continuous line makes in repeating, though never precisely, a similar walk taken in a previous painting. One of the questions I ask myself is which of the paintings came first, for example in the dyptich 1LC DipSymM+R 2011, Cobalt White on Lamp Black & Lamp Black on Cobalt White, (shown on the right in the installation shot above), did one of the pair precede the other and if so, which one? Or were they painted together? Is one a copy of the other, or are they copies without an original: ‘sym’-ulacra? And now that I am comparing the two pictures, I notice that the trance has changed. Now I am seeing the whole, the synthesis that is the dyptich, and then the whole that is the series on view here. The poppy red painting on linen, on the left in the installation shot, seems to have its origin in the dyptich, and there may be others too that are not here, so my perception of the whole turns out only to be partial after all.
Borrowing another distinction from the field of linguistics (I also used one in a my previous post about this exhibition), I could say that the completed paintings are nominalisations: verbs in noun form, and that in viewing them my trance is one of denominalsing and renominalising. The line taken for a walk, by the artist in the act of painting, is all verb. In the completed walk the verb has become noun. A symmetrical process takes place in viewing the work. I see the paintings in their nominalised form and start to trace the continuous line, with the various levels of underpainting and crossing. The work has become all verb again, until later I stand back to see the ‘whole’ with a new understanding. This itself is a further development of the trance state.
I want to say something about trance phenomena like time distortion that connect directly to these paintings. And I will … another time.