Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Un(for)seeable Paintings of Francine LeClercq

Borges, who had gradually lost his sight, described blindness as a hazy world of hues, a shifting mist of colors: “The blind lives in a world that is inconvenient, an undefined world from which certain colors emerge; for me, yellow, blue (except that the blue might be green), and green (except that the green might be blue). White has disappeared or is confused with grey. As for red, it has disappeared completely.”
There is a similar apologue in the history of painting.  Shortly after Renaissance’s discovery of perspective, that loom that weaves the tapestry of the universe, all threads, even the irreconcilable vectors of parallel lines, would converge and meet at last at the pupil. All things converged to the human with unprecedented accuracy, and painting, now strongly allied with the sciences, would resort to no lesser means to verify and chart the exacting coordinates of this new centre.  That was of course until the appearance of a second focal point and with it the elliptical crisis of the ego.  Indeed it was Carravaggio’s prophetic painting, Narcissus ca. 1597 that would bring down the upright creature to his knees; a young boy bent horizontally over his reflection in water, fully absorbed in the viscosity of a fading image.

With the gradual drift of the image well beyond the transparent lens of the picture plane and the settled nebula of chronological debris, Francine leClercq’s paintings seem like openings that one could delve into in search of some hidden secret.  In this respect it could be said that the encounter with the paintings are far more aural than visual, not only because in her view the work is incomplete without a synthesis with space and its viewer but also because in the material constructs and the technique there resides a dimmed ghostly presence, so dimmed in fact that one is never certain that the thing just seen on the highly reflected surfaces of these paintings is in fact encoded, reflected or manufactured, triggered by memory. A mirage that owes its existence to its absence, like that eternal color that disappeared but its knowledge is engrained within us.
What is certain is, when viewing the work, we are in absolute sovereignty of painting, a commanded solitude.  The buried dates and figures, the illegible words, the sealed lips of wounds that have lacerated the surface and seem to murmur something incomprehensive, something inaudible, are all fulfilling their role… Another blind man whom Borges cites in his lecture on blindness, Milton, said it best: “In this dark world and wide”. Upright but pulled to the horizontality of their inception with outstretched hands, for one knows not what lies ahead, whom one may encounter still, perhaps even Narcissus, this time in a multitude of centers that are spread out like stars and afford us some light, a sight but one that is endowed by the painting, looking out.

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