Friday, 9 March 2012

Light Constant

Last years flowers sit in a mason jar by the desk side. A drop of sunshine falls on the elegant decay and fractures into tiny fragments. For a brief moment in time bits of light get caught between the frail stems and the brittle petals. Everything is subsumed by this burst of light and matter.

It is 1988. Miquel Barceló is in Africa. It is his first trip. In his studio in Mali he is studying light. He is drawing shadows. “The light in the desert is so intense that the things disappear, and the shadows are more intense than the things themselves…What isn’t has more intensity that what is. Because in Africa light isn’t colour. Light is much more stronger than colour. Colour is almost corroded by the light.”* In the night he paints the river. Scratching the paper to obtain the effect of light reflecting from the water. The foam still white in the thick African night.

Barceló is concerned with the passage of time.  The tomatoes, the melon, the skulls, the river, his friends– time spares no one. Each is captured in a state of inevitable transformation. In his studio back home flowers placed in a jar are slowly decomposing over time and the consummate artist doesn’t miss a thing.  Back in Africa the elephants herd is slowly moving towards the river while the skulls in the studio, with their motionless eyes, wait for the sun to go down.

Afterword: Einstein's theory of relativity states time and space aren't as constant as they appear. The only true constant is the speed of light. Time can seem to run faster or slower depending on how high you are, and how fast you are travelling. That's bad news for those who own a penthouse.

*‘The earthly cycles’ by Enrique Juncosa (An essay from Miquel Barceló: works on paper 1979-1999).

You can see Miquel Barceló's art at his fan site here. To see his paintings from Mali click the year 1988 and scroll down the page.

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