Hot sun, late sun — The path of the waves —
If the image in Ancient Greece is born effectively from shadow, as related by Pliny the Elder (see Dibutades and his tracing of a shadow on the wall in Corinth, Natural History, Book XXXV), its cradle is entirely light. It is of this that the exhibition Hot Sun, Late Sun. Modernism Untamedseems to remind us in pointing, though pictures, from Van Gogh to Polke, that magnificent carrycot. The light lays a physical mantle upon the things and beings it envelops during its rectilinear passage. The rebound of colourwhich appears in the path of the (electromagnetic) waves (of the visible spectrum) activates the visible, awakens thought, sparks memory, which latter posts itself at the window – the curtain of feelings and emotions opens.
If light contains a physical side, namely brightness, it also possesses an emotional side: illumination. To light up and to “illuminate” go hand in hand (terminology borrowed from a grand master of light, Henri Alekan). Painters, photographers and film-makers know it well: light is their language, they speak (through) light, it is their own verb, their auxiliary being.
What we shall look at in these talks is that light, certainly, aids perception, but that – even more – it makes us think, it initiates the intelligible. The retina harvests its seeds, the mind sifts them, kneads them, introduces a raising agent (the imagination) and bakes the bread. Each of the paintings in this exhibition is a loaf which speaks to us of its origins – light – and of its destiny – imagination.
In front of these images, we will be like Incas before Inti. As Dylan Thomas writes: “Dark is a way and light is a place.”
David Brunel is a writer and photographer. He holds a PhD in aesthetic philosophy and psychoanalytical studies and is a qualified university lecturer. Dividing his time between Arles and Amsterdam, he teaches aesthetic philosophy, art history, the history of photography and critical analysis in various universities and art academies.
Sigmar Polke, Lapis Lazuli II, 1994. Lapis lazuli and resin on canvas, 300 × 224.5 cm. Carré d’Art, Musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes