Those Involved

Painter S paints a painting. Painting X is deemed done. S leaves the room.

Viewer A enters the room and views X.

S realizes that the significance of seeing within the process of painting has become increasingly crucial to her. Through vision, one navigates through the world and through perception one orients oneself in space and time. Since vision also is cognitive, what one sees determines what one thinks and vice versa.

Painting includes the hand, the mind, and the eye – an equilateral triangle where each side is dependent on the other. S claims to explore how to paint rather than why or what. Ideally, a viewer’s very first encounter with a painting is a visual punch that hits by surprise; a sensation of excitement, where something is at stake.

S claims to seek the unnamable in her paintings. The final image is never complete, but desired. Once a painting is considered finished it is abandoned, unalterable, and over time it becomes independent.

According to S, a painting is a time capsule. A secret that holds past, present and future all at once, shamelessly crisscrossing forward and backward. The initial gesture of the brush stroke registers a “here and now,” yet it already belongs to the past.  S thinks of her paintings as traces, scars or residues from different processes. As echoes of her studio work.

A painting can function as protagonist, a stage and the play itself simultaneously. This drift between roles and functions enables a painting to exist and act within and outside itself. It can be both referential and experiential.

A on viewing X: When I look at the painting, I "see" the absence of a body. This absence can be discerned through the prints of a hand, the traces of a movement, and the previous activity. But if S now is absent, is my body then a substitute for hers?

A gap arises as the painting transforms into an object for projections, the painter’s as well as the viewer's.

S imagines A's relationship to the painting. She thinks about the possible differences between the seeing that takes place during the act of painting and the kind of seeing the viewer might engage with later while looking at the finished painting. That distinction between what comes before and what comes after is a basic and elementary aspect of painting, nevertheless crucial, and it is a prerequisite for how we relate to and experience painting.

A painting's existence is by nature extrovert and exposed, should be seen. The artist and the viewer are kept at bay, as they both are external to the actual object, the painting itself. This distance begets curiosity, but retains the integrity of the various parties.

What A sees, S does not know. And they both turn their backs to the painting.

Sigrid Sandström
Stockholm, December 2012