Things In Themselves


“Science manipulates things and gives up living in them. It makes its own limited models of things… Science is and always will be that admirably active, ingenious, and bold way of thinking whose fundamental bias is to treat everything as though it were an object-in-general - as though it meant nothing to us and yet was predestined for our own use.”
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1961

Virva Hinnemo, "Giant", 2015, Acrylic on cardboard, 5 1/4 x 7 1/4 in.

Virva Hinnemo,"Plusplus", 2015, Acrylic on pizza box, 25 3/8 x 22 3/8 in.

Virva Hinnemo,"Twin Thought", 2015, Acrylic on cardboard, 49 x 62 in.

Virva Hinnemo, "Black Marks", 2015, Acrylic on cardboard, 13 x 6 3/4 in.

George Negroponte, "Blue Blue", 2012-15, Enamel and spackle on wood and cardboard, 12 x 19 in.

George Negroponte, "Pedestrian I", 2012-15
Enamel and spackle on wood and cardboard, 12 x 15 in.

George Negroponte, "Pedestrian IV", 2012-15
Enamel, house paint and spackle on wood, 8 x 12 1/2 in.

George Negroponte, "Pedestiran VI", 2012-15
Enamel, house paint and spackle on wood 15 x 13 in.

George Negroponte, "Pedestrian II", 2012-15
Enamel, gouache and spackle on wood and cardboard 12 x 17 ½ in.
Virva, can a lump of paint speak?

Your stark maroon brushstroke stretches almost four feet along the surface of that piece of cardboard; at first glance it looks like it was done crude and fast. But that single winding mark lingers, takes another stride, and becomes two distinct shapes that dangle from the top, on the left a frontal rectangle, on the right a slow squat arch that cuts through the bottom of what was once another rectangle and then trails off like the handle of a kitchen saucepan. In one precious flourish of paint is a strong-willed sway of flexing fitness. Whoa. This visceral form is obviously not a depiction of an ancient axe, a child’s pushcart or a confusing road sign. Nor do I detect any political or historical claims like those ascribed to Motherwell’s black elliptical shapes in “Elegies to the Spanish Republic.” Yours is an encounter of a different kind: fanciful but real, assembled by hand, and visited by your imagination.

It is the simple, direct and mysterious fusion of fact and fiction, achieved with confidence and shunning all pretense. Over here a pearly white mark begins a little absentmindedly, then turns a wobbly corner, shifts gears and ends up all the way over there. Now it murmurs “mountain”. Last year you formed makeshift letters, for instance that almost “e” and “a” facing each other in a tense stalemate or that recurring approximation of an “s” that appears often enough that I know it’s most likely intentional. On those occasions the paint is applied like lava: dense, slow, and deliberate but still edgy and brisk. But the weirdest thing is that you merge all these ingredients like a cook with a spatula: straightforward, not-to-be denied, and purposeful. Virva, you are chomping on the present tense.

Meanwhile, I am “soul-searching” or as Frank O’Hara aptly wrote: “I’m quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting and modern.” At best silence fills my day: inert and blunt. Hands on, hands off: it’s a workmanlike approach to an existential problem. I need more nimbleness. So today I might want my work to deliver like silk stockings: tight, sheer and sexy. Tomorrow I’ll produce artwork that is atypical and funny: like this pale, goofy, bulging shape recalling my mother’s Eero Saarinen Tulip dining table. And along the way please provide me some bliss like when the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio captures the little dog gazing at the engrossed St. Augustine staring out the window of his study. It blows my mind that the patron saint of sore eyes would have such a kind, dedicated and loving companion.

Imbedded in space I see an echo not unlike my face or body: drilled, nailed down in pious insolence. I’m dreaming of blazon arms dedicated to muteness, purged of manipulation. I’m lured by those crazy moments that could/might communicate another possibility or another way out and by that wild card in the puzzle that must be unconditional love. Virva, I stay on my toes because on some rare occasions, alone in the studio, the mark, the pour, the shape, the surface, the atmosphere, and the lump of paint can be seen entirely on its own terms, speaking to me from beyond all reason, like things in themselves.

G.N. September 2015

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