Visual arts and literature share twin territories that make indistinct the use of a common vocabulary. The initial difficulty of drawing a line on the canvas has its correlation in the vertigo that a writer suffers before the blank page. The individual who incarnates his time, either as a patriarch (matriarch?) Of the avant-garde ideal or as a narcissist freaked out by his muse, travels through the universal letters, but in its foundations the sense that prevails is not that of sight but that which emphasizes the essential matter of his being in the world: touch. It is a physical law, the gravity that a nude holds before touching the ground, the complicated machinery of the arm that runs along a hip, the vulgarity of a still life on a table, the crests of the birches that overlook a valley.
In To the lighthouse (1927) Virginia Woolf makes Lily Briscoe, the young hesitant of the first visit to the summer residence of the Ramsay marriage, becomes the mature artist of the second date, when she can finally conclude the painting that has begun. The reader wants to know why that work was interrupted that caused so many problems to the painter, volume problems, or the color spots that must be resolved by heart, because the question of the reproduction of reality no longer depends on the notion of fidelity Woolf reverses the terms of representation, because what he has in mind is not so much a picture as a verbal work of art. “His mind continued to throw, from the depths, scenes, names, sayings, memories and ideas, as a source whose spill spilled over that dazzling and incredibly difficult blank space,” writes Woolf, according to the translation of Dámaso López in Chair .
To achieve the fluidity that ensures the right path, the painter not only had to follow her own thoughts in all her deviations, but also suffer in her own body the rapture of time, the loss. In his dazzling novel, Woolf follows matrilineally the theme explored by Balzac in The unknown masterpiece (1831), Zola in The Work (1886) and the Goncourts in Manette Salomon (1867), where the painter Coriolis seeks to capture “the scene that touches you”, because the artist’s mission is to be able to draw the inner line that represents life, a drawing more true than all the drawings.
The artist’s mission is to be able to draw the inner line that represents life, a more true drawing than all the drawings
Art and literature are a sea of sand, no less Borgian reality than the allegory of a museum that could contain a babble and faltering structure of living lines. The subject must have been a toppos possible for the American philanthropist Ann B. Friedman, promoter of the world’s first museum dedicated to language, Planet Word, which will open in May at the Franklin School in Washington D.C., the historic building from whose terrace Alexander Graham Bell made, in 1880, his first photophonic transmission with a system of mobile phone. He saidbelIo is as close to literature as to optical fiber.
Also in the heart of Washington D.C., the Folger Shakespeare Library released the Tell It Slant award a few weeks ago to artist Lesley Dill (New York, 1950). The name of the award is taken from the famous invocation of Emily Dickinson, “tell all the Truth but tell it Slant” (“say all the Truth, but hidden”) that over time Each artist / author has adapted to his will, the most thug, Billy Wilder –“If you want to tell the truth, do it with grace or they will kill you”– who in turn appropriated it by Oscar Wilde. Dill uses the words as codes and decorative elements that he mixes with papers, cables, horse hair and photographs on canvases and dresses, in a visual collage that the public must decipher. A similar resource Joan Jonas (New York, 1936) uses it in his video-performances, the last, Moving Off The Land II, will be presented very soon in the Thyssen-Bornemisza and is a convergence of chiaroscuros and naturalistic texts (The soul of the octopus, by Sy Montgomery), poems (Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot), epic-psychological narratives (Moby dick) and theater do not who warn that the magical and the prosaic live together, in the limits between the image and the reality, are artist’s tricks like the one that the old painter Zeuxis propitiated in his representation of a bunch of grapes so real that the birds tried to eat them.
The possibility of invoking the presence of someone or something that is not really there is a central issue in the history of all cultures. The Irishman James Coleman (1941) usually combines nonlinear codes and diverse narrative genres, such as fotonovelas, gothic stories, clichés of romantic literature, detective stories, theater and folklore of his country (Clara and Darío, 1975, Seeing for Oneself, 1987-88, Charon, 1989, Retake with Evidence, 2007), in a claim of defect and failure, as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett would like: How try say? (“How to try to say?”). Of the latter, Bruce Nauman (Indiana, 1941), who stars in a retrospective at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam that will arrive in the Tate Modern in autumn, takes the keys to some of his best pieces (the model for Room with my soul outside, 1984); and, from the author of Ulises, Dora García (Valladolid, 1965) creates The Joycean Society (2013), composed of a film and ten copies of the Finnegans Wake They contain hundreds of hours of recording and all the hermeneutics performed by the members of the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich around the most cyclical and chaotic work ever written.
Each author has his own recipe in the form of aporia, of discontinuous sleep. The purpose is not in the light, but in the trance, in the process. This is what Virginia Woolf wanted in a perfect narration of continuous swinging towards the lighthouse. By the time the widower Mr. Ramsay and his two children get –supposedly– reaching the island, Lily Briscoe is able to see with absolute clarity the final image of her painting: a clean line, or the pronoun I (I).
Moving Off the Land II. Joan Jonas National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary TBA21. Madrid. Until May 18th.
Lapsus Exposure, 1992-94. James Coleman Mumok Vienna, until April 5.
Bruce Nauman. Stedelijk Museum. Amsterdam Until May 23.
Love With Obstacles. Dora Garcia Rose Art Museum Waltham (Massachusetts). Until May 17.