Canvas as falling light

Light rising as a fall – Water Fall series
What is excessively visible is the ground, the bare canvas, which stands in the place of pure light. Naked Matter stands out as Pure Light. This standing for is achieved without any pictorial means, by subtracting all pigments and reducing the pictorial work to the thin film of painting itself. The excessive presence of the blinding light commutates with the actual absence of any representational means creating indiscernibility between Naked Matter and Pure Light. The surface where light and matter exchange their determinations is at the verge of the two realms, the image falling into the actual world, and the actual world rising into the image. Canvas as falling light, light rising as a fall.
The construction of the paradoxical surface proceeds from the periphery, the pictorial work limits itself to the periphery, the pictorial work is an act of framing. Leafs, mountains, rocks, frame the naked canvas to liberate light. The periphery receives in return the glows, reflections, highlights from the light that seems to emanate from the naked surface. The act of painting prepares the blinding visibility of the ground.

Barely visible – Grey on Grey & Blurred vision:
The paradoxical surface distinguishes itself from the barely visible. The barely visible verges on the limits of the capacity to perceive, it makes visible the threshold of seeing. We experience, in the effort to distinguish visible differences, our limit to see. In this limit experience the different realms remain distinguished from one another: light doesn’t rise into representation, nor representation fall into light, the invisible remains a contingent fact of our seeing capacity, rather than being a seeing of the invisible, a seeing in blindness.
An excess of pictorial elements is another way to end up with bare visibility. Blurred lines, overlaying colors, movements, and images bring seeing to its limit. It remains that this limit is our limit of seeing, a contingent fact related to our finitude. Contrary to the paradoxical surface the limit of seeing is in the excess of pictorial elements that lead to confusion rather than blindness, while actual materiality on the other hand, the canvas, recedes into the invisible, beneath the paint. It is only the paradoxical surface, the canvas as falling light, which can uncover pure matter while liberating pure light and inscribe blindness into seeing.

Reflected and filtered light – Glass reflections & Light Boxes
When the paradoxical surface is not standing for a represented object, such as in the case of the naked canvas standing for the fall, but is taken on the surface of representation, like when it stands for reflections on a glass covering an image, it loses its paradoxical power. Even though the canvas is laid bare, even though light seems to emanate from this naked surface, the indiscernibility of the two realms is not achieved. The glow is overridden by its own image, the glow is captured as a representation of a glowing glass. Light is the double of itself, light cannot be freed as pure matter, or matter raised into light.
Filtered light on the other hand makes actual light visible, physically active as waves traversing a translucent surface, a physical agent to make visible what would have remained in a dark recess without its action. Physical light is perceived as what allows perception but is not perceived in itself. It is only the paradoxical surface that makes physical light perceived as physical, or brings the actuality of light into the realm of the image. The paradoxical surface is thus able to avoid the double temptation of reducing light to pure physicality or of raising light into pure reflection, and in that escapes the Fall.

Fares Chalabi
January 2017