Gilles Deleuze provided a model to grasp the mediation of form and content in his Logic of Sense. In this model, the signifier and the signified are doubly inscribed but since the two never overlap, this relation is described as an ‘empty’ formal structure. Nonsense and sense are both organized spatially but the implication is that there is a center-line or division between them that belongs to both and pertains to the question of where something is and where it is not. This all receptive, spatial-medium (or gap) is where shades of emotion help reveal differences between what is seen and what has been lost or forgotten. Accessible to both physical generation and cognition, it is a pre-condition in preparation for a regular arrangement of points or objects over an area in space.
Plato introduced the notion of the gap as a territorial connection between Being and Becoming to constitute a conceptual relation to boundaries and thresholds in human consciousness (Timaeus). Where a moment is missing, the order of things is incomplete and the break in continuity distorts the texture of Being. In this sense, texture refers to both, an essential part or identifying quality, and to a visual or tactile surface characteristic of the appearance of something. The gap, which is variously described as a receptacle, necessity, uncertainty, feminine nature, and the nurse of all becoming and change, has no identity of its own until something enters into it. Sometimes referred to as chora, the Greek word for space, the status of this connection between two or more things was appropriated by Julia Kristeva as the semiotic chora to locate the site of the pre-verbal relation between mother and child in preparation for entry into the symbolic order.
SKIRTS (2010-2012) portray the conflict between nature and culture in a tripartite series of paintings that includes, Skirts, Hems & Folds and Linens.
SKIRTS, when associated with abstract form and conceptual arrangements, are relational compositions that stand-in for absence and loss to replace or displace the materiality of what is missing. Where interiority and exteriority overlap is a double inscription that introduces the possibility for accomplishing a shift in perspective to grasp what holds the entire thing together. A skirt, when understood as an object cause of desire, allows for the passage from corporeal specimen to logical function where logic takes the place of biology (Lacan XVI). This kind of logic includes an artificial site of reception linked to time, memory and lost space that substitutes for what lies beneath the surface. For example, desire is woven into the texture of the painting on one side of Small Skirt to attach a literal sign to an image of a backside covering of the void. Desire, which is ostensibly abstract, personalizes the painting for the maker and for the viewer, bringing them together, and in their belonging, remains a point of reference for coping with what is missing.
SKIRTS attempt to reopen the synchronicity between thought patterns and an entire mentality hidden within the folds of art historical signs and symbols that share an afterlife with peripheral objects. Incongruous pairings of images are meant to disclose the imaginary correspondence that links dissimilar iconography to a common origin. Part biography and part social history, they build upon the illusion of belonging to both worlds.
SKIRTS is a code word for patterns of thought, gestures and glances that refer to censorship. Skirts, which are described as free-hanging outer garments, extend from the waist down, fall in pleats, folds and layers and are variously described as barriers, hedges shelters or pens. As mediators between the body and its surroundings, skirts also reference rims, boundaries or peripheries of outlying parts. A skirt can furnish a border or a shield and it can be something to go around or to keep away something or to avoid danger, discovery or controversy. They mark the distance between interior and exterior, the social and the individual and represent the threshold between the real and the desired self. When a skirt is a substitute for a biological body, the self is presented as a façade and when this border is removed, identity is exposed as the imperfect converse of the perfect surface.
SKIRTS pertain to the small loopholes and errors in cultural material where a source of light or knowledge is cut off. To ‘skirt’ suggests ambivalence and avoidance, scoping out what can be observed, and establishing a relation between things. Holes, ruptures and cuts bifurcate paths and multiply alternatives between points of time and events that we are driven to conceal to fulfill the quest for wholeness. These gaps are the living fabric of the force of desire that punctuate consciousness and determine what becomes visible.
Hems & Folds are titled with different names for time. Like time, folds are reversible, and like elastic membranes, one element is stretched over and extended to the following ones. With all their tiny pleats and wrinkles, folds are charged with an all-ness that appeals to a nameless psychological yearning recorded in the texture of drapes, skirts and crumpled linen. Hems are borders, rims or margins that confine or stitch things down. The subtext, embroidered in the borders attached to Hems & Folds supplement a reading of the narrative embedded in folded cloth. As with traditionally painted drapery, Hems & Folds stand for the mystery of conscious existence that stays alive on the surface through complex symbolic systems.
SKIRTS: Nikideon: “Little Victory” compounds the parody of feminine masquerade with companion pieces appropriated from 19th c. master paintings. Paired with “accessories” torn from the pages of art history, the dog, the dress and the floor are extensions or surroundings associated with aspects of love. Nikideon might have been one of two courtesans who pretended to be male in Plato’s academy; she was probably bearded, not young and citified when she embarked on a political career. “Little Victory” celebrates overcoming of the fear of being born a woman whose movements would be less restrictive after death (Apology).
The Linens represent the fabric of social tradition and reverse the history of fabrication by reiterating the fine weave of the machine made canvas, by hand. The replication of a blank slate upon which to project an aesthetic impulse entails both painting and weaving. The background, now the foreground, is both obliterated and exhibited at the same time. At once full and empty, the veneer adds a layer of superior value to an inferior surface.
Artifice brings out the character of the background upon which a particular aesthetic is founded.
Linens are hand-made copies in which the image conforms to the unforeseeable intention of becoming an aesthetic object. Composed of the repetitive application of lines or ‘threads’, the colorless faux fabrication demands being present for the duration. This involves a series of operations that give an abstract rendering of the small, minute quantities that make up a painting. Vermeer’s Skirt + Linens is an assemblage in three parts in which voluminous baroque image is framed by ‘linens’ to bring out underside upon which it depends.
Linen is to canvas as skirts are to the female body. Linen, which is known for its strength, beauty, coolness and luster is a metaphor spun from desire to make a good impression. An artist’s canvas is designed to take on an image of something other than itself. Canvas can be a course cloth woven to form regular meshes used for making pictures with a needle as well as making clothing, tents or sails. The word canvas can mean to cover-up, to line something or to examine something in detail to determine its authenticity. Canvassing is used to solicit support or to determine opinions or sentiments about something. It suggests having a discussion or debate. A canvas is also the name of a place that deals with conflict – such as the boxing ring.
Linens play off the formalist tendencies of contemporary art that cover up the truth about painting. Blankness is the demand of nothingness to fill it up and painting is a metaphor for the piling up of senseless actions that add up to the handling of the thinking about painting that gives meaning to the void. The Linens open up a space for words by way of negation and mimic the application of layers that enhance and disguise what is behind the façade.
SKIRTS: Small Skirt
Diptych: (1) 40” x 40” + (1) (40” x 54”), acrylic/canvas
SKIRTS: Hems & Folds: Hora
Diptych: 66” x 60” acrylic/canvas
SKIRTS: Nikidean “Little Victory”
Diptych: 85” x 75”, oil/canvas
SKIRTS: Vermeer’s Skirt + Linens
Triptych: (3) 60” x 60” (60” x 180”), acrylic/canvas