Total Structure

Still harping on Ehrenzweig, I choose these words as the core insight of use to any artist:

“In a work of art any element however paltry has to be firmly related to the total structure in a complex web of cross ties radiating across the entire picture plane. There is no decisive division between the gestalt or figure and mere background elements. The complexity of any work of art however simple far outstrips the powers of conscious attention, which, with its pinpoint focus, can attend to only one thing at a time. [emphasis mine] Only the extreme undifferentiation of unconscious vision can scan these complexities. It can hold them in a single unfocused glance and treat figure and ground with equal impartiality. For this we have the testimony of the artists.”

I’ve often thought that the apparent simplicity of my work makes it easy to dismiss, but in the process I’m always on the brink of a complexity too vast to even grasp, never mind manage. The advantage of the spheres, I’m just finding out, is that infinity is already present, so the local arrangements don’t have to reach for a total resolution, and that makes a sphere a large form. The compositions disappear around the edges, and as we follow them they transform into something else. The format allows development in time, as in music or literature. The story is probably science fiction of some kind—and obviously music of the spheres. But all of that is only within the realm of what one individual can  grasp in their own workplace, with finite resources. Not everyone gains the support of governments to choreograph many bodies and orchestrate visual designs in grand public spaces with a world audience. In a word, not everyone can be an impresario, although I wouldn’t mind giving it a try. But no matter how impressive a curated show as total artwork seems to be, and how small a painting actually is, in both cases it comes down to figures on a ground and boundaries that cannot be taken in all at once. Stella might be right, painting cannot compete. But in some contexts the collective of individuals appreciates the individual infinity, as a respite from the social kind. As it happens, the scale of these things is good, and that can’t be seen in a cropped image.

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