Saturday, April 14, 2012

The painting and The Gorgon

On Francine LeClercq’s exhibition: Paintings

More often than not, a work is subject to a mechanical conspiracy between its maker and the recipients, which conceals its truth. The more facts are volunteered, the more accessible the work is made to be, the more transparent the intent of the maker,..., in short, the more authority exerted over the work, the more repetitive are the nods of affirmation.  Indeed, the use value of meaning would be reduced to null were it not for the dynamic automata of this hiccup, the transaction by which the two integers, the author on the one hand and the nodding heads on the other happily interact to forge meaning.

In this regard, perhaps due to a certain dimness in Francine LeClercq’s work, whether in the morphological images of the drawn works, the catalytic drips of the meshworks of late 90’s, or most recently the crepuscular glaze of the poured works, the striking aspect, is first and foremost, the almost primitive urge to smear the surface, as if under the burden of some guilt, one is hastily compelled to bury all proof, erasing the trace of anything by which the slightest meaning could be discerned, rendering it insignificant.

The force of contradiction in this assertion is however too great, guilt is made significant only when it is tied to a value system, the behavioural code, the convention of meaning, the most devoted agent of which, language, in its highly evolved script form, is itself a by-product of the same archaic impulse of smearing, marking, painting. To speak metaphorically, there has always existed a curious relationship between a thing marked and what it re-presents, a hide and seek between meaning and the truth it reflects; that in the verb reflect: to express a thought resulting from reflection, there is inherent the highly reflective nature of a truth itself, the very quality that allows it to be camouflaged the instant a glance is cast on it, depicting everything but itself, blind to sight; and yet, if its presence is felt, it isn1t that by virtue of its absence, it has traditionally been summoned as a myth, something higher than it may be, but that the stuff of reason, the systems of representation, if they are to be utilized, are offered no other ground, no other choice but to be pulled into its gravitational force; but alas without friction, so that the moment they begin to exert their weight, they slip, and it is in this slippage that the sought thing might ever so dimly present itself.

And it is at such a moment that in the syntax, latent in LeClercq’s paintings, in the sometimes evident pain taken to produce meaning out of the relationships and articulation of parts, at once random and organized, divisible and whole, that we find the language, contrary to all expectations, has instead taken leave of its communicative powers, resigned to a mucus like outpouring of a delirium as oblivious to discourse as Dali’s melting clock to time.  Nowhere is this state of flux more present than the strong sense of evacuation one gets from the catalytic works where the drips of paint on the edge of the canvas seem to be moving away in gradual motion, having left as it were, a geological trace on the surface, or equally the sense of expulsion through the incisions made on the canvas, the paint suspended in a seemingly perpetual viscid tate.

In comparison with the new works, whereas the same kind of attention to the parts is still operative, in the presence of more variables, the inflection on syntax in all articulateness has had the paradoxical effect that the language is made even more impotent, divested of any claim to self referentiality. Notably, while the centrifugal dispersion in the catalytic works, as in Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs, does this by having the unsettling effect of never arriving to a static moment for the eye to rest on, the semi mirror like quality of the current works preys on the eccentricity of the viewer, we find ourselves suddenly ingested, looking out from the gut of the painting, seeing nothing else but what it sees, only then to be expelled from it, akin to the whale’s nausea that vomited Jonah back to the shore. This perhaps is one of the most compelling aspects of the work, the diffusion of visual register in viewing the work to a powerful awareness of being in the presence of a work.  Furthermore this presence is itself thrown to a backdrop of a larger whole in the clear reference made to hanging, which we see in the protrusion of nails, in the displacement of the painted area within the stretcher, or in the syncopated designations etched onto the surface. As a whole, a clear attempt is made to inverse the negativity of the wall as a mere hanging surface to take an ontological role in the positive survey of the field proper, without the illusionistic pictorializations of a tromp l’oeil.

Another peculiarity is the reference made to certain works in history, delineated, captioned to indicate the artist, date, size of painting, etc., as if the work has been turned to a catalogue, an essay on painting, and yet at the very moment of enquiry, we find that the words are too buried under the paint to be legible, their semantic function made defunct; the title, un-titled given to the paintings therefore, finds a particular resonance in that, more than just a cautionary stance to avoid to project meaning into the work, it enunciates the very action by which the painting deflates any meaning that could be read into it, a kind of shield that throws the petrifying gaze cast on it back to its viewer.

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