Hide & Soul 1999

Studies in rendering visibility

The Great Emptiness is spacious and broad, nothing hinders it,
It does the miraculous Being That wich exist of itself, rotating.
Melted, it forms streams and brooks,
Congealed, it forms mountains and heights.

Sun Chou (310-397)

Practising art

Purposely I gouge. Through movement with material, color and the forms which congeal, I am searching. I rub a handfull of linseed oil through drawing ink; burnt sienna drips between my fingers. At the boudary between form and formlessness I stop. And look. Under my nose, I begin to see the start of coagulation and am amazed by the phenomenon of porpulsion. I blow tiny mounds of gold powder into the wet surface.
Creating is a way of thinking. Tanglible thinking in movement and material. A process of creation unveils itself. Such as our own body reveals our past. History tans our hides. It rips, cleanses and gouges in one continous movement of transformation, which arises from the daily flow of purposeful action and being acted upon.
Looking at that which is taking form, sometimes something viable emerges. This is what spurs me on. Traces of insights, intuitions and perspectives. How little structure can a painting bear without loosing its appearance. How disciplined must I be in the use of techniques and material to keep from getting lost. Or does the source of my actions itself create some basic order?

I am in search of forms which focus me and, unforseen, create newly discovered spaces in the wide, flat hide of the painting. Forms at the nebulous edge between the concrete and the ephemeral. Forms at the nebulous edge between the concrete and the ephemeral. Forms which preserve mystery and avoid the limitations of definitions and symbols. Practicing art thereby becomes an intimate and sensual exploration in search of meaning and their plasticity (grained surfaces like tanned hides, smooth linseed oil with pigments and beeswax) are the means by which the immaterial and indefinable seem to be made tangible.
Rendering visibility by focusing all attention to the hide, sometimes, by chance, reveals a glimpse of soul.

 Just like that
A track, feeling its way along in void
Finds direction in grooves
Encompasses nothing,
Begets something.

Drawing existence.

Gleaming white, the sink stands as always,
Terse in form, balanced so as not to implode,
Or of a sudden to shatter into bits of porcelain
Dewy in the mirror stand I,
Drying myself in the brittle balance of everyday.

When the wear of time all suppleness has frozen,
And the wind grinds howling in unyielding petrifaction,
Movement rediscovers itself in thistle
It cracks and splits fractures
In the grid and weather polished hide

Primal inkling, moved,
Traces lines into mirror-smooth surface.
The balance, breached,
Opens perspectives. Reflection
Carves a view; it vibrates
Into being the unforseen desire

Shivers under the hide.
Like a flock of sparrows,
All form is only a temporary compound,
Focussed, necessary, meant to be.
Or just
Receptive and tenderly touchable.

Broad. Shining and wide,
Fragile connection thickens together.
Festively clotting,
Exactly there where coincidentally
Movement trancends freedom.

The south wind pleats the surface,
Rolling ripples northward

In the rifts and swampy layers of my deep-red being,
Far beyond the eye-cathing hide,
It is where choices are ratified.
In amorphous motion and fathomless death,
Purpose and being converse.
There love and pain tangle in peristalsis,
Struggling for life or stagnation.

Something is after
It no longer is
Something else.

Something is before
It became what it is
Something else.

On the sunny sill
Still in the rays
A butterfly claps its wings.

Louis van Marissing © 1999

Translation with David Stein


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