patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘The Art of Seeing

Marek Tobolewski, ‘Sym’, Tarpey Gallery

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What kind of pleasure is it that I am experiencing when viewing the Marek Tobolewski show ‘Sym’, at Tarpey Gallery, Castle Donington? ( I said a little about this exhibition in a previous post.)

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.

The Marek Tobolewski exhibition Sym, at Tarpey Gallery, Castle Donington, continues until 24 September 2011.

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facilitating the aesthetic encounter

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I have written before about the role of the curator in facilitating the aesthetic encounter (I borrowed the term from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson, The Art of Seeing) and sometimes gone on a bit about how some people seem to be able to see optical effects (for want of a better term) more easily than others.

wave

I noticed something similar on holiday recently, in relation to a ‘natural’ occurrence. When this wave breaks you see a miniature rainbow in the spray. Some people could see it easily as it occurred, some could see it when it was pointed out to them, others just couldn’t see it even after it was pointed out and with repeated viewing. But then, they could see it when re-presented on this short video.

I wonder if it would it be correct to say that the curatorial skill required to facilitate the experience is that of pointing/describing,with some interpreting and little, if any, of judging.

Written by Andy Parkinson

July 30, 2011 at 7:05 am