art > text

The space of a canvass. Bold use of this space, a bold use of colour, a confident style, Realism/abstraction/emotional/distanced. Shape, colour, balance, tonality, depth, style, technique, abstraction, figurative, painterly, flat, dimensionality, granular, timeless, ephemeral, words, the words we use, the words of art, the words of the gallery, words that makes sense in the world of art…

Within this world, the world of the individual work of art, of the painting itself.

The field of sense of a painting makes us ask questions of what it is we are looking at, what are the prompts, the hints, the facts of this world, by looking at something we know to be a work of art we are engaging with it to construct meaning, which we ‘get’ in the moment of looking at it, or a bit later on in reflection, which may or may not stay with us, hold up as a valuable meaning beyond that one moment and that one work of art. Art makes us aware we are never just looking at the thing represented, or if there is such a thing, and if there isn’t we also ask ourselves what does that mean. The absent and the present ask the same questions within a work of art.

This approach is a sleeves rolled up realism that allows art to speak not to us, but with us about the world. We travel from the painting, to the world of art and beyond…

The objects that appear in a painting are indeed also the objects of the field of sense of painting.

Vision is transparent, it lets us see things but does not let us see the act of seeing itself. Art allows us to see the objects for how they appear and for what they are whether that is different or not; the seeing of things is as important as the thing itself.

The motifs that appear on Kofi’s work as objects: mouths, hands, willys, tits, smiles, gritted teeth, more mouths, more eyes, more teeth, exist within a field of sense. In fact Kofi himself, represented by his signature on the painting is also present and also an object in the field of sense of the painting. There is no flattening out of the image into ‘What does Kofi mean by’ or ‘What is his background..’ etc that is a much less interesting object domain (that of the artist and her biography) than the delight of sensory engagement with the painting as object in the moment we sit or stand and look at it for however long in a shared object domain that we share with the painting itself.

What does that mean?

It means we are free to enjoy/dislike/feel neutral about a painting, about Kofi Boamah the artist/painting for as long or as little as we like. Long enough to buy a painting, caught as we are in the enchantment of meaning (from the matrix we have created) or short enough to catch the eye of another, in which the object domain of Kofi Boamah the artist has ‘rubbed off’ on us, to share that look, that gaze with someone or not, or to walk past the painting onto another that gives us pause.

Art is neither entertainment nor a representation of reality, art represents to us a slice out of time across all the senses and all the possible things that could exist at the moment it was created. We create resonance with it as it does with its own moment.

Imagine a slice of cake, a big fat wedge of Gateaux, oozing with cream, strawberries, chocolate, apple, lemon sponge. Imagine many slices of cake, an infinity of cakes. Each consisting of the same objects in a new field of sense that is called a painting, on top of the field of sense of cake that they already make up. We look at the painting, we take a bite, sometimes it’s a messy one and we need to wipe our mouths, sometimes it’s a dainty nibble and we don’t get sticky hands…

We are all art in the moment of the creation of its meaning. The artist and the viewer both. That’s why it needs us, in order for it to exist we have to complete it. And why it is important that we buy it, don’t buy it, look at it, avoid it, are aware that it leaves us unmoved, or that it moves us…

‘...the meaning of art lies in its ability to acquaint us with the ambivelence of sense. Art shows that objects only ever appear in fields of sense, insofar as art brings its objects to appearance by connecting them with the sense in which they appear.’

Markus Gabriel — ‘Why the world does not exist’

A painting such as Malevich’s Black Square presents us with a black canvass against a white background. A common response is that it is a painting of nothing but in fact it’s a very common object that is represented; a black square. We expect art to represent more interesting objects, not just black squares, so we say it’s nothing. What Malevich is doing is showing us how it all works, how painting or art in general exists in the world. In that sense his painting is pure art; the black square is painted on a white background, giving it context as a work of art, the wider background is the world of art. What is in our field of vision, what is our field of sense in every case? Something in the foreground and something in the background, which is indeed how we can see it, the only way we can see it. There is no other way.

Back to the Boamah…

There are a lot of playful/funny/childish elements in Kofi’s paintings. Lots of bared teeth, in laughter or grimace. Humour allows us to access our subconscious without being aware we are doing so, (it just gets us, we can’t help it) without worrying we are being analysed or there is something wrong with us, jokes let us drink from the forbidden water of our own childhood. Looking at Kofi’s paintings allows us to enjoy the jokes we think we see there; humour is essentially infantile and here we approach Kofi’s themes and motifs a little closer. Infantile, scatalogical, garish, sexual, these are all ‘things’ from our lives, things we are already always intimate with since infancy. Experiences, responses to the world that never go away but just get put away further and further to the back of the cupboard. Paintings like these can reconnect us, allow our subconscious a subtle or not so subtle return. So when we say it’s hard to put into words what we think about a painting, that is because it is. Words are not as subtle as image. The desire to say something, or the feeling looking at gives you can, triggered by humour, by infantile recognition bring true pleasure in the viewer.

An artist does not tell a joke, although she may claim she does, the joke is in us already, the funny reverberates from the canvass into us and also in reverse. We paint onto what we look at (not see...) who we are...colour me bad, or colour me good.

We are always the joke...