Modality of the Visible

I sat outside A-Space for almost 4 hours. Maybe three people stopped to more than glance at my art. I thought about that post on the time one needs to see, to actually see, a work of art.

More specifically, I was thinking about Joyce’s “ineluctable modality of the visible.”

Who cares, right? but there I was, sitting in the sun, what else did I have to waste my time on?

The visible became words for Joyce. What I was thinking about, was the visible in art that remains in the ‘modality of the visible.”

This is what I do, what I seek out, what I work for in my art–the power of the visible to grasp the attention of the eye, to guide and to reward exploration that has no need to become symbol, message, exhortation or story. Useless.

There I was, useless. Old man trembling in my own private thoughts and anxieties. With my useless art, refusing to allow any meaning beyond the visible to be pried lose from the visible. A vision quest, of no use to the world.

#646 Gates of Unknowing

68.5 x 56 cm. Watercolor, ink, burned Buddhist paper.
Artists learn early that art won’t save us. Not that it ‘can’t,’ but that it won’t. A refusal. No different for the few who find ways to manipulate the capitalist machine to grant them false compensation in money, though that may make it easier to hide from the truth.
I’ve been thinking about this as I’ve worked on my last few pieces. No more than our children can save us, I thought. I feel, even as I work, the increasing distance, this alien thing, this work of my hand and eye–how it absorbs something of the power of the sacred, a power that is not, and never was, my own. And never will be. Like our children–we want them to live, to shine with that life that will never be ours,  even as they abandon us to death.

#646 Gates of Unknowing.JPG

View portfolio here ART BY WILLARD
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