Samples of the Liquid Book (text from catologue of exibition Samples of the Liquid Book, U10 Art Space, Belgrade, 2015)

Text: Velimir Popović

The development of geometric principles of the painting composition can be traced to contemporary theories that deal with articulating the gaze. Decentralizing its meaning and the way in which it is positioned in poststructuralist circles have determined most of its application. In conceptual art, however, the gaze and seeing are reduced, removed and replaced with conceptual, mental and linguistic sorts of imaging. That is how today’s methods of geometrically constructing a painting are articulated as samples taken from different “deconstructive” methods applied to the concept of the gaze. Amélie Nothomb very subtly and transparently describes the gaze in the novel The Character of Rain:

            “What is a gaze? Something inexplicable. There is no such word that could come close to its fascinating essence. But then again, the gaze exists. Above that, there is little in reality that exists in such abundance.

            What is the difference between eyes that have a gaze and those that don’t? That difference is called life. Life starts with a gaze.”

From this we can draw out that the gaze contains desire. This is a crucial fact for our further debate. In truth, everyone sees what they want to see. The gaze transforms into a desire machine originated from the effect of continual existence which brings clear cut differences. The gaze thus transforms into continuities and discontinuities of desire machines. In this way, it finds its way into the desiring body. Gazes in this way become machines in a field where contingency gravitates to even itself out with factuality. Francis Bacon defined this in the following way: “As every body takes on various interconnected and inter-grown properties, it happens that one property is repulsed, supressed, broken or tied by the other, which leads to certain forms darkening”. If property in Bacon’s words is not treated as something static, then the desiring body becomes a field of conflict and/or unison of desiring machines. Based upon that, in the context of speaking about the work of Francis Bacon, Deleuze determines that large surfaces covered with luminous layers of paint create a “shallow carving” into which a figure is submerged and whose skin, bones and flesh are carried by invisible fluxes. Submerged as such, it places the figure into a potential abyss. The effect achieved in this way takes the movement of the figure into the background and offers us the possibility of temporality. The notion of temporality, drawn out from the definition of contingency and thus immensely widened, here allows us to imagine and organise the ways in which the desiring machines “break down” interface layers, meanwhile creating new desiring machines and compressing the aforementioned layers into two-dimensional surfaces. If we see art in the 21st Century as “interface design”, the mentioned interventions on the layers can represent a possibility to conceive contemporary views of the pictorial. If we add to this that the puritans demanded to have the principle of composition organisation according to nature’s model replaced by an autonomous structure, then we can allow certain analogies between that transition and the state we are in. In the core of the approach to a geometricized and stylized painting, the demand introduced rationalised and decorative formal-mathematical problems of composition. It is in this space that the problems which Nemanja Nikolic tries to lay out in the series of paintings Samples of the Liquid Book are actually articulated. The series brings forward possibilities of a balance between the intuitive way of conceptualizing geometry itself and the one created as a consequence of mathematical mapping in digital space. Here, the possibilities to structure the geometric principles of the painting are released through the balance between the mentioned inner tensions on a two-dimensional (non)-representational surface that finally constitutes the painting as an object (sample). 

Translation: Isidora Krstić      

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