Archives for posts with tag: closure

A thought to begin the day, the week  – Lawson on Rembrandt – ‘the image is more than an image’;

‘…Rembrandt’s late self-portraits. These portraits can be seen as not merely providing a copy of the individual’s appearance but as seeking to move beyond the appearance to the experience of the individual and perhaps of all individuals. We are not being asked to look at an image of an old man as if to comment on the paintings likeness to the individual appearance, but are encouraged to ask what the paintings tells us about what it is to be old. The painting suggests a lifetime of events and a response to those events. Yet we cannot complete the closure as if we could read off unambiguously what was meant or intended here. We are left with the image and the sense that the image is more than an image. We can weave many tales about this character and it is in the complexity and variety of those tales, and the assumption that the image was intended to generate them, that closure is avoided. The image although itself not ambiguous cannot rest, for it is caught in a web of metaphors of its own making. The image thus stands for something which is itself open.’


I’ve been reading ‘Closure – A story of everything’ by Hilary Lawson. In may just gone I attended philosophy sessions at The Globe at Hay, the institute of  art and ideas called How the lights gets in; I heard Hilary talk about Openness and Closure and other speakers including Ruth Levitas,  AC Grayling, Kenan Malik,  Alex Prichard and others but I was most intrigued to follow up Hilary ideas (who also turns out to be behind the philosophy festival itself) and read his ideas about contemporary painting. I like the following quote because it somehow matches up with my in-painting-process of leaving myself on the edge at the end of a painting like his  idea of something that cannot come to rest – as if in permanent struggle or striving for something slightly out of reach – which is also one reason why I like to symbolically use boxers.

‘The attempt to avoid closure cannot therefore simply abandon closure altogether, but requires the suggestion of closure: the offer of closure that is then denied. If insight alone were the defining characteristic of art it would apply equally to the scientist; what distinguishes the artist is the offer of closure that cannot come to rest and so cannot be completed…. The successful artist must constantly escape closure, by eschewing familiar categories or by undermining them. It is for this reason that art is constantly on the move, for the boundary of cultural space is itself a product of the immediate past. A work that today escapes closure may if repeated tomorrow be realised as material in a routine manner’.

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