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Empty

All the great symbols of America are empty. The river, the sea, the open road, the prairie, the whiteness of the whale. It it’s about the light across the water in Gatsby. It’s all about the feeling of sublime or horrendous or fatal aloneness. -Peter Schjeldahl.

I've been thinking a lot about this Peter Schjedahl quote from the David Zwirner podcast Dialogues. Nothing has been important to my work for a long time, maybe more accurately nothingness. The Absurd, obviously, is important and both nothingness and emptiness relate to the Absurd. But emptiness resonates differently than does nothingness and I think it's fair to say that it is what I've really been after. I am interested in painting emptiness.

In this way I've been thinking about the divine. It is what interests me, in my work, about the divine. Going through the Easter holiday recently it strikes me as actually a central theme of the holiday. The tomb is empty, divinity returning the universe to its lack. I'm afraid I am terribly agnostic, I want so badly to believe, but emptiness is the truest thing I know about the universe. I understand faith, and I love the idea of choice, the power of choice in faith. And of course it needs the emptiness.

I've been thinking about how my work relates to landscape recently also. It is important to my work that process functions as an index of presence. And I've been thinking about the imprint of landscape on the psyche. Also landscape as being an emptiness available to project presence and perhaps divinity on to. Also both landscape and emptiness as representing potential and America as being about potentiality over substance or the potential for truth, justice, equality, etc. over the substantive manifestation of those things.




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© 2020 by C.J. Martin