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Berlin 22.01.– 20.02.2004

SL (Canberra), 2003
oil on linen
107 x 130cm

We assume so much about seeing and the visual world. Our daily lives are geared to a kind
of shorthand of vision. It is the effectiveness of this shorthand that has given vision it's primacy amongst our senses and has made the visible so closely associated with certainty. Seeing becomes - remains - believing despite growing evidence to the contrary.

Painting makes possible a sustained examination of the visual world that can reveal the uncertainties at the centre of vision. But what room is there for description in painting when the visible is so completely and continuously described by cinema, photography and digital imaging?

While "realist" paintings are concerned with the look of things, what is being painted is by no means clear. Representation, illusion, the appearance of truth - all require the shimmer of ambiguity. The point at which an edge is lost or softens with the turning of a form is a matter
of judgement rather than fact. Representation is a matter of invention.

Even the thinnest film of paint is discernable as material presence, as object. In making or contemplating realist painting the counterpoint between surface and depth, object and image, disrupts perceptual expectations. Materiality is acknowledged. The illusion is both accepted and questioned. Vision is slowed - revised. The paradox of painting is affirmed as a sort of sustained ambiguity.

Perhaps the survival of description in painting is due at least in part to this: the pleasure we take in contemplating vision and sustaining ambiguity.

Jude Rae 2004


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