THE TRANSUBSTANTIATION – an experiment in the materialization of the ineffable
As a painter, I have experienced the moment when paint, color, texture transcends its physicality and becomes something else. Artists, musicians, poets know this state of being-when process becomes all, when the encapsulated experience of creation becomes universal-timeless. We speak of it being a state of suspended reality, or as Joan Mitchell so aptly said, “It’s like riding a bike with no hands. But once you realize you’re riding the bike with no hands, then you must quickly grab the handlebars.”
If, as the physicists continue to reveal, there is no time simply space, then the painter, if so compelled is able to prove the hypothesis. Through the act of making a painting the artist is faced with the objective of the transmutation of simple materials into something other than. The application of paint to surface through placing color or texture in a certain order to unlock form, or for that matter formlessness and in so doing creates a proof of the human ability to transform or “transubstantiate” the material into the ineffable.
And as the viewer stands in front of this object in space, an object that allows a movement within a picture plane and beyond superficial, one is in the position of witnessing a timelessness created by this process.
“Precisely because they are material solids, paintings enjoy the same kind of concrete existence, the same sort of actually complete being, that belongs to things in nature. The painter’s own problem rather is to obtain from the solid and immobile objects produced by his art an expression of movement, of becoming, and in short, of life.”
– Etienne Gilson, Painting and Reality, 1959
The degree with which the artist is able to create ‘entity’ out of simple minerals and fibers is not dissimilar from the notion in religious doctrine of “transubstantiation” (changing wine and wafer into body and blood) or the physical experiment of painting which changes one substance into another…from one realm of physicality into, for lack of a better word, spirit.
Mark making is the signature of emotion. The sonorous act of movement from hand to paper or canvas is the ability to create a resonance that transforms being from one state to another.