Something happened that’s hard to remember, so I don’t know what to say about it. It left traces though, interesting evidence.
I began folding canvas to make big charcoal drawings in 2013. It was a way of tricking myself to make things twice as big as I thought I could. The indirect marks made this way looked like whispers, images that could undo themselves over time if they weren’t cared for. The fold drew an invisible line for itself like evidence of an event. It revealed the canvas’s history of existing in another dimension, of having been folded and unfolded for a reason.
It’s enjoyable, letting unexpected things happen. There’s a value in not-knowing; maybe I picked this up while recording measurements for physics experiments. Many small, repeated observations can reveal patterns. Robert Morris lets felt fall or pile up, setting his parameters. I’ve learned from photos of Helen Frankenthaler to paint on the floor, and read that she wanted to lose her mark so the colour and canvas could speak.
I want the folds to speak because I think they can say something about time and space and the power of things we don’t usually notice or can’t see. Folds tend to fall or get overpowered and flattened on purpose. But folds can also defy gravity for a time and disrupt an image.
My voice sometimes disappears. There are times when the right words don’t seem to exist, and I say so many things missing the mark. Maybe the right words haven’t been invented?
I started to wonder, what if an image can’t show what I mean to communicate? Agnes Martin said we can remember the beauty of a rose because real beauty exists in our minds. The experience of beauty in her mind was what she was interested in, more than the rose. That beauty interests me too, and the way she got around the problem of representation using grids of lines, delicate and overwhelming.
Numbers and size matter in this so-called minimalist process. Life-size, immersive fields of humble marks make you wonder: why the heck did someone do this, how long did it take and did her back hurt? (Yes.) Then you recognize something, maybe about the world or yourself. I’m thinking about perception and the experience of memory, light and time. My lines skip over the folds and sometimes break. They might suggest mirages like op-art, but they also show how the canvas is sculpturally present. I want the folds to keep existing like this; or, when gravity pulls them flat, like empty spaces showing something about what it’s like to be in time.
There’s an old song that describes it: “In the desert you can remember your name.” I’ve tried to skip over times when words fail by saying a thousand little things. It’s embarrassing. But maybe something interesting comes through this way.