Dimensions

20 rue Victor Hugo, Mussy-sur-Seine
2021
Oil, sand, acrylic, cardboard, pumice and wood on canvas
70 x 50 x 4 cm

I am attempting to address the notion of dimension in this work. As we all know, painting is generally considered two-dimensional. Within those two dimensions- height and width, certain conventions have existed in European art that have been used to imply three-dimensional space : perspective, placement of objects high or low on the picture plane, the size of the objects (larger seems closer, smaller seems farther away), color tonality (warm colors approach, cool colors recede), etc. The third dimension-depth is part of what defines sculpture. Sculptural forms can be free-standing or they can be in relief, still attached to a composition on a wall. Obviously, many artists have blurred the line between painting and sculpture. There really is no longer a rule defining « painting » or « sculpture ». Painting itself has been torn from the idea of figuration for decades, and much of contemporary painting is purely about the application of color on a two-dimensional surface.

Because I paint on a flat canvas and my work is figurative and contains the conventions  mentioned above, it involves two dimensions, height and width. Because my work involves deep impasto and is built up with structural elements, it involves the third dimension, depth. I would like to suggest that the series called Doors also involves the fourth dimension, time. The act of walking through a doorway can be thought of as a « passage » or a transition. In reality nothing is static, and everything is in motion and in transit, even when it appears to be standing still. The Romans had a long tradition of placing a figure of the god Janus (after whom the month of January is named) over the threshold of a door in recognition of this idea. Janus has two faces, one looking back, and one looking forward.

Robert Greene mentions his notion of the sublime in advance of a book on the subject, one he says will take years to complete. I have gleaned a few words from recent interviews, and I find them relevant.

The sublime lies just outside of our comfort zone or what is known to us. When we encounter it, we feel a kind of jolt to our senses, the jolt of being alive. It is an encounter with the unknown. The greatest unknown is death. The word sublime means “up to the threshold of a door”, and that door is the door to death itself.  When we touch death, that is, when we consider what may lie on the other side of the door, we are reminded of the miracle that is life…our life. 

2 comments

  1. I enjoy reading what you write as much as you work on the doors series.
    The notion of the the “sublime” is not one I have considered. Do you can consider you work l on the flat surface, paintings, or are they paintings/assemblages?

    Like

    1. Hi Suzanne. Sorry to respond so late. I suppose the work could be called assemblage rather than painting, since a lot of it has a third dimension. In France I’ve been called “un plasticien”.

      Like

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