THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
Through A Glass Darkly is a title which alludes to a common human inability to perceive the nature of visual things, or understand their real and permanent significance. But it also suggests that only in a future state of being, after death, will man attain the vision that will give all he sees its true clarity and full meaning.
These pictures are about making sense of things, of people, of places. They are an attempt to bring together some of the many fragments of our experience, and in doing so they represent both the developments and departures in Paul Martin’s recent work.
The marks and signs, the half-seen symbols, the rhythms, textures and colours of the surfaces show themselves, and then elude the viewer. They are sometimes one identifiable thing, sometimes another, allusive yet concrete. These pieces, seen together, seem to suggest then dissolve, name, then name again, in order to find a visual form for the idea.
Painting and drawing are subtle languages. A mark or patch of colour, the paint itself, the pigment or gestured mark, all may evoke part of an object or a presence, some force or some unseen energy. Sometimes a fragment of painterliness may refer to a subtle balance or mood. These paintings are an attempt to make new things which jolt us into realising what something could or just might be like. Duns Scotus, the Scottish philosopher, wrote about such perceptions in the fourteenth century:
'By a first act of knowledge the mind has a direct but vague intuition of the individual concrete object as a ‘most special’ image, a particular glimpse of ‘thisness’. It is through this knowledge of the singular that the mind, by abstracting and comparing, in a second act arrives at its knowledge of the universal.'
Drawing can be a process by which such universals are known or at least sought out. The British sculptor, Tony Cragg, observed that 'ordinary human comprehension is made extraordinary by concentration.'
Drawing is one such form of concentration. In the act of drawing or painting there is a ‘going out’ of the artist towards the object, in an act of openness. What is discovered is the inner language of the object, something of its meaning and the manner of its making. The resulting works may then be comprehended anew, suffused with the mystery and form which is found in nature and in previously unperceived natural things.
These pictures by Paul Martin are an attempt to describe the presence of a universal language and essence within the world of the things which are all around us. Through the painterly metaphors of sign, rhythm, matter and colour, all revealed through light, this exhibition presents us with a new perspective on our surroundings, and invites us into this artist’s unique visual world.
CHRISTINA ALEPI + PAUL MARTIN - Cat's Cradle, Through a Glass Darkly