13 December 2012

Back to the library

[written in August, at the end of the course at Camberwell, when all books had to be returned]

Not all of these books were read as thoroughly as I'd have liked, especially  Installation Art. I marked numerous things in the Conversations with Tapies book, but on revisiting most had lost their importance. But some - relating to his process - were worth adding to the notebook:

"For many years I worked in an almost automatic, unconscious way. It was only when the critics began to question me that I made the effort to understand my own work in intellectual terms, to grasp why I had used a particular form or colour in a picture. When I put a sign in a picture, and X or a cross or a spiral, I feel a certain kind of pleasure. I see that the sign gives the picture a particular power, and I don't try to explain why this is the case."

"...Tapies's preference for natural materials with a rough, matt surface - materials which convey associations of warmth and are subject to a visible ageing process. Tapies has always eschewed metals or any other materials with smooth, shiny surfaces. The only way of exploring these tableau-objects is by touch, sensing the specific aura which surrounds so many of his works. They seem to create their own microclimate, like objects which acquire beauty, life and presence only through use."

"As an attempt to plumb the depths of the subconscious mind, 'automatic writing' introduces a 'scriptural' element into painting. This has become an integral feature of Tapies's work. His pictures are strewn with letters, numerals and hieroglyphs which form a mysterious alternative language. These scriptural signs have an associative significance: the normal communicative function of language is largely suspended, and the meaning of the signs consists precisely in their enigmatic quality. The riddle becomes a principle of communication."

"His aim in painting is to penetrate beyond the superficial appearance of things, and this calls for darkness instead of colour - that darkness which, to the mystic, is the bringer of light, by the same paradox which decrees that the goal, the absolute, the ultimate ground of being is the most perfect emptiness."

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