Portraits

I live in Latvia. Winters in this country can be pretty harsh, with long periods of intense cold, dark, completely covered gray skies, and a little wind. Not a strong one, but continuous and gelid.

I often find myself sitting there, looking outside of the window, at the gray sky where clouds move fast, a gray pattern of hundreds of specks, shifting coordinately in bunches over a neutral background, monotonous and impressive at the same time.

Well, sometimes, a little blue fleck peeks out, more like a stain on an elegantly patterned dress, but still of an intense beauty. But is that really beautiful? A small, shapeless stain of blue on a colourless background? If taken out of context, evidently it has nothing beautiful in it.

Beauty is always in the context. That emotion-raising blue spot is beautiful because it is a spark of life in a dead universe, the small reflection of God in a bottomless abyss. Or at least, this is the way we see it.

And context is nothing but the complexity of Chaos. Trillions of genetic instructions, memories, experiences, things that happened, are happening and are about to happen in an orderless universe that we live like a protogenic creature floating in the waves, feeding on what comes by. All of this, bunched up in one thousand trillion connections in our brain, all rigged up in a body that has somehow a kind of thinking quality in itself, in its hands, feet, muscles, skin, hairs, that often seem to have a mind of their own.

That is why the present is beyond our limit. Living the moment happening right now, the thousands and thousands of informations and reactions happening in the world around us in this millisecond: this is what is denied to us. Our conscience always lives in the past. We are doomed to appreciate life only looking backwards. The depth of this look, increasing and increasing furthermore thanks to art, science, and introspection. But still, always the eyes of the mind are directed backwards. Sometimes towards the future. But they can never be fixed on the actual relentless now.

We feel glimpses of it when we live fully the sensations of our body when we hit a ball, we dance, we taste, we hear music and sounds. But then we lose it. It is inevitable.

With my work, I aim to fix on a purely infinite white, place of all possibilities, the here and now of existence, using decisive, cutting gestures. I let it happen, and give it a sense by simply allowing it to be there, breathing, pulsating of its own life. But I do not imprison it in a descriptive cage, with the only target of fixating it on what could be defined as the canvas of our fictional, transient ideas of the percepted, suffocating it with the bars of our will to describe it in our own, pre-determined words. Such immuring is the human limit I was talking about.

This limit is necessary, and beautiful in its grandeur. It aims to filter and order the unfilterable and unorderable. Without it, our mind will not know on what to focus and we would be lost in the middle of thousands of stimuluses every single second of our life. We would live, so to say, an awful unmeaningful life. This limit is built in our brain, our culture, our social activity. It makes us rich and meaningful, but it also makes us poor if we do not commit to indagate it, understand it and, instead, we let it be our tyrant. Freedom is but in knowledge, and being a prisoner of oneself’s limit, is that really what we aim to do1?

With my art, I am but a witness, a witness that tries to achieve an always deeper insight on what we are, what we live, how we die, but without poisoning it in the grasp of an unfulfilling retrospection. On the contrary, I let it drift in the waves of life, follow the currents and the routes of our essence. My works are what I am, and what the canvases are, what the walls they are on are, and what the rooms they are in are and the people watching them. But they are not my idea of it. They are what they are, independent and free, and no less than that.

That is probably why I like to call my works “portraits”. What is a portrait, if not the essence of a free and independent personality, pulsating in-between 4 frames, living his own life in the eyes of the watcher and therefore infinitely renovating itself by riding on that brief, minuscule and apparently insignificant ray of light that sometimes breaks through the clouds of existence on a cold winter day, if you look hard enough to see it?

Giovanni Dominoni
Riga, February 2016

Note:

  1. 1 – As in Deleuze: “Consciousness establishes between the I and the representation a relation much more profound that that which appears in the espression ‘I have a representation’: it relates the representation to the I as if to a free faculty which does not allow itself to be confined within any one of its products. When the consciousness of knowledge or the working through memory is missing the knowledge in itself is only the repetition of its object: it is played, that is to say repeated, enacted, instead of being known… …the less one remembers, the less one is conscious of remembering one’s past, the more one repeats it-remember and work through the memory in order not to repeat it” Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, Bloomsboory Editions, 2014