by Stefan Arteni

On Painting
Otherwhere Otherwise
Painting, Image Likeness
A Wandering Journey
Painting Calligraphy
Painting as Polycontexturality






Sol Invictus Press

The example of the literary genre of ‘utopia’,
with its (reluctantly admitted) poverty…
demonstrates what… the opening created
by negation really amounts to.

Hans Blumenberg

Nostalgia for the modernist utopic (dystopic?) western
metanarrative/expropriated eschatology – disapproved in
practice – gives place to simulated liberation.
    The post-modernist game, speed as countermemory, becomes
    a space of con-fusion, insulated discourse of artist and critic,
    uninterrupted interruption (Lafountain), where incessantly
    repackaged difference – the routinely ‘new’ – stays the same:
    the context of no context, the age of the provisory (Burckhardt).
    In the post-modern episteme man has become the absent
    subject (Foucault).
History reveals its ironic essence: dis-location. Why does
globalism generate tribalism?


To live meaningfully we project fictions
by which we order life, the fictions have
no truth, but they have a truth function.

Hans Vaihinger

Art un-veils through dissimulation. A linear outline is already an
artifice, a memory image (Read).
    The world is admired, feared, before being verified: wonder,
    then imagination, recalling, rites that control the multifaceted
    world around, a canon of operative choices and evaluative
    criteria founded on its functionality in regard to a form of
    life, a preconceptual grasping (Heidegger), life experience
    metaphorically projected onto potentially organizable
    domains (Corradi-Fiumara), the figural, the haptic (Riegl)
    as preconceptual (Lyotard).
Art is dependent upon everything which the community,
tradition, and history, transmit to the body and mind. By its
roots, art belongs to a time and place (Maritain).

…the spirit of a world without spirit…

Karl Marx

Culture (cultura,colere,cultus) is a spiritual cultivation just as
the cultivation of the earth is agri-culture, it is the forming of
the formless.
    Culture is a set of rules, collective representations (Febvre, Bloch),
    structures of belief, judgements and intuitions of aptness, etc.,
    of persons within the community (Goodenough). Formal
    structures of a culture have the character of ‘cognitive
    maps’(Polanyi, Werner) that are understood when they reveal
    the source’s conventions.
    Life-community beliefs are not objects of knowledge. They are
    experienced in life as time-duration (tradition unreflectively
    experienced as alive in the present) not succession (Scheler).
A justificatory canon balancing value beliefs by the formulation
of codifications can be either a list of works/artists or it can be
a complex of accepted rules of practice (Bonazzoli). The work
makes the rule evident, even if there is no other work of its kind.
    The post-modernist canon is empty (Descombes). The work
    becomes deliberate small scale iconoclasm, pranks,
    puerilism (Huizinga), a limitless paralogy (Lyotard).

In the planetary imperialism of technologically
organized man, the subjectivism of man attains
its acme, from which point it will descend
to the level of organized uniformity.

Martin Heidegger

After the Renaissance – a rebirth of occult sciences, not the
resurrection of classical philology (Peuckert) - , after the
censorship of imagination that followed the Reformation and
Counterreformation , and after the Enlightenment with its mythical
irrational structure (Adorno, Horckheimer, Weiner), have flowed
past the adjacent category of mankind located on the margins and
byways of history (Couliano), the post-modernist alliance of power
and technology results in an accumulated momentum which is
about to overrun all: the brave neomodernist world which C.S.Lewis
characterizes as ‘the abolition of man’.
    The discourse of the peripheral survivals is caught between
    Quinean indeterminacy of the cultural translative act – without a
    commonality of context emic belief webs/concepts never
    receive full articulation – and ongoing homologation/homogenization,
    where dialogue becomes insignificant and superfluous, the
    dominated playing along unwittingly with the technology of
    control (Foucault): Bruno’s De Vinculis, the prototype of the
    impersonal mass media, indirect censorship, global manipulation.

Difference is the object of a practical
affirmation inseparable from essence
and constitutive of existence.

Gilles Deleuze

The hermeneutic filter of an era acts through emphasis or suppression
and systematic distortion or semantic inversion of ideas which pass
through the interpretive grille (Couliano).
    The alterity of the periphery is reduced to the collage/inventory
    of difference that merges into the metacategory of the
    interchangeable, while the organization of consensus by the
    media becomes a rhetorical experience (Vattimo) obeying the
    principle of insufficient reason as its axiom (Blumenberg).
    The levelling out is no longer even a matter of indifference,
    but rather is simply forgotten : structural amnesia, organized
    oblivion (Peter Burke).
The con-text is being silenced. The global cultural contamination
of cultures existing at the margins represents a vast site of traces
and residues (Guidieri) – a mixed reality, an in-authentic encounter,
a dissolution of the locus of alterity – where even the Western
modernist model loses its cogency and becomes part of the
same contaminated site (Vattimo).

The function of the painter is not to reconstitute
an anecdote, but to constitute a pictorial fact.

Georges Braque

anekdota – unpublished story/narrative

A lexicographical mapping of basic formal and material constitutive
elements within traditional , predelineated , horizonal, artistic
belief-webs [textbooks and pattern books that communicate the
vocabulary and syntax, e.g.:
-    the Chinese "Mustard Seed Garden"painter’s handbook/
Far Eastern calligraphy traditions and how-to handbooks;
-    Greek/Byzantine painter’s handbooks]
suggests a kinship/analog character of structure on the periphery
that ties up with a paradigm shift, an alternative emic formulation
of the "modernist" canon, that substitutes a paradigmatic code
centered on askesis (training, practice), tacit knowledge (Polanyi),
and the pictorial fact, for the dominant Occidental model,
exposing the latter to its other:
    the later Renoir, Degas, Bonnard; the later Braque, Gris, Derain,
    Dufy, Vuillard; Villon, Modigliani, Sironi, Morandi, Marini;
    Avery, De Stael, Poliakoff; the later Zao Wu Ki.
What one sees depends not only upon what one looks at, but also
presupposes a perceptual and conceptual experience that taught one
what to see (Kuhn) – not only does one see differently, one sees
something else (Wolfflin).

Inasmuch as we appropriate past experiences
with an orientation to the future, the
authentic present is preserved as the
locus of continuing tradition and of
innovation at once.

Jurgen Habermas

syntakt(os) – ordered/arranged together
syntassein – to arrange together
syntasso – ordering troops

The turn-over/deconstruction of Kunstwollen is undertaken in order
to assert the subversive difference – alterity – of the defeated,
forgotten, and excluded, and their referential categories, by opening
up the horizon of a repetition that repeats forward (Kierkegaard),
of repeatedly different possibilities actualized (Deleuze), of paths
that weave and interweave, re-placing, linking, fusing horizons.
Fragments/scattered pieces of ruins reach into a concealed whole
containing parts that no longer address us.
    The field of anamnestic redemption/re-membering/re-cognition
    recaptures a radical inward retrieval, fully reactivating and
    releasing the fading, elusive, marks in their spatial
    simultaneity – a syntax structuring the flow -, into the hitherto
    latent play that unfolds in manifold ways: recurrence of the possible.
    It is because nothing is equal, because everything bathes in its
    difference, its dissimilarity, even with itself, that everything
    returns (Deleuze).

The new comes to be as the old is
recollected in dissolution.

Friedrich Holderlin

The idiolect forms when reenacted, altered, extended: no longer
‘cultural’ replication but affirmation of the deracinated individual,
becoming, real-ization.
    Methods and standards are an inextricable mixture, implying an
    unbuilding/ overturn of implicit hierarchies [e.g. content and form]
    inscribing one’s appropriative strategy: to appropriate means
    to impose, to create forms (Deleuze).

    One produces the new only on condition that one
    repeats – reminiscence – within forgetting, a past that was
    never present. History – the present traces of a past – should
    play a role analoguous to that of collage (Deleuze).

Rhetoric in execution: calling forth the
reserves of beauty of forms and
colors, result of personal observations
or observation of the masters,
evoking themselves under one’s
eyes as the brush places the brushmarks.

Pierre Bonnard

The idiolect/idiopraxis is simultaneously an allolect/allopraxis
opening up to borrowing, appropriating, and rejecting: a destructive
    Prior to any sign, what is given is the nework. A Gestalt appears
    as functionally more than the sum of its parts.

    The will to form has to recognize the laws of pictorial space.
    In adapting to their dictates, freedom is produced. The most
    significant aspects of paintings lie not in their apparent content
    but in the handling of the medium.

    Marks conserve for ever their status as signs or traces of the
    human action that engendered them (Ortega y Gasset).

The dike or immanent game: the
polemos which is its place, the whole
envisaged as a game; and judging the
whole, the creative artist, himself
identical with his work.

Friedrich Nietzsche

dike – custom/usage/way/order/judgement
iter [itara (sanskrit) – other] – once again

Marks, free from truth and objectivity through a radical
reduction/suspension/withholding of meaning (Caputo) so as to
touch upon an unutterable mystery, have the power to create beyond
themselves – as the play of the arbitrary infinite iteration (Blumenberg)/
as a repetition which alters/as formants of iterable and alterable
signs – an abyss of latent graphic associative links, a deep play of
irrepressible pseudomorphic operations, metamorphosis,
synecdoche: the strange path of the hand (Matisse).
    El Greco uses Byzantine schemata in Counterreformation Spain:
    pseudomorphosis; esoterism (Mondrian, Kandinsky, Malevitch)
    meets French Art and uses its pictorial ways for different
    purposes: pseudomorphosis (Besancon).

The hermit and the artist are
reflections of one another as the
Taoists knew.

Bani Shorter

dromenon [related to "drama"] – rite, a thing done

One grasps perspectives beyond the structure of a given vocabulary
when that structure is no longer firm (Kenneth Burke)
The reoccupation of functions (Blumenberg) resembles ritualization:
an ingrained mode of activity has lost its intelligibility, so that
the schema is available for a retrospective interpretation and
integration into a new context – an alternative social memory
and myth define identity (Peter Burke).
    Understanding means mastery of a technique, possession of a
    capacity, participation in a custom, and exercising this
    know-how by acting in accordance with a rule. Following
    a rule is unreflective, rationally ungrounded (Wittgenstein).
    Ritual transforms the objects of memory into the experiences
    of present time events. The paradox of festivals: to repeat
    an "unrepeatable" (Deleuze). If we agree with Victor Turner’s
    opinion that a given ritual, as a dramatic unity, is a work of
    art, the reverse should be true as well: a given work
    constitutes a sort of shadowy rite (Girard)
Syntax, meter, chant, are partly ritual or have a ritual origin,
syntax is older than semantics and most in need of explanation. This
is why there is syntax in ritual, an independent level of syntax in
linguistics, why language is so unlogical and roundabout:
language as a playful activity (Halle). There are instances when
the words are not intelligible to the listeners.

Ritual is a system of acts, sounds, etc., related to each other in
accordance with rules without reference to meaning, a
self-contained and self-absorbed pure activity functionally
ambiguous –it is essentially execution, it is not a "language".
The absence of goal or effective action – Indian tyaga or Chinese
wu-wei- is similar to games. Its meaninglessness explains the
variety of meanings attached to it. It is a remnant or resurgence
of a prelinguistic stage where the sound, the gesture, the
visual – for numerous image constellations there is no verbal
equivalent (Berlejung)- are used in a syntactic manner. Ritual
is often transmitted without the help of language, by demonstration.
School affiliation and lineage are concepts with ritual overtones(Staal).

Iocari serio et studiosissime ludere
(joking seriously and playing assiduously)

Marsilio Ficino

graphein – Moira’s tapestry weaving/the weaver appears later with a
                    scroll (Onians)/to draw or write, simply seen as graphic
                    form, including the void as shaped spacing

Understood anthropologically, form is a means of self-preservation
and stability in the world (Blumenberg).
    Palimpsest, multiplied, superimposed, crossed out marks:
    the grapheme/pictur-eme, formant of the sign, refers within
    itself to traces of traces (Derrida) – vestigium, trace (Nicholas
    of Cusa), the reference marking a path, the mediating process
    of transmission, the trace as signal, the enactment without
    imitative quality at the place where marks give form (Merleau-Ponty).
The rule dominates through the ritual (Baudrillard). Games
originate in rites that have been divested, to a greater or lesser
extent, of their sacred character (Girard).
    Play, mark, dispersion, ludus mundi, and the insistent question
    "what does it mean?" pitted against dispersion and play (Krell):
    Velasquez pinta pintura (Ortega y Gasset) – Velasquez
    paints paint-ing. Pictoric signification: the paint-ing.

The nothing has no middle, and its
limits are the nothing.

Leonardo da Vinci

telos – wrapping/circling around (wheel of fate): the ritual form of
            gathering/bond of fate causing fulfillment (Onians)/goal,
            end-point in the sense of perfectedness that determines the
            essence of something

Marks have their autotelic games significance (Nishitani), oriented
toward the play of art and its rules, including the
violability-in-principle of rules (Feleppa). The authorial act is
incorporated in the event, it is an end in itself.
    The final form of art is contingency, an atelic
    telos (Kuki, Merleau-Ponty). A painting is about painted
    surfaces, self-referential, auto-figurative: look at, and not just
    through, the painted surface. Pictorial space is constructed as
    a combinative arrangement, a manifold of interacting strokes
    and areas, and the constitutive nothing of spacing (the moment
    of the syntax system), a configurational Gestalt.

Just as a work of painting gradually
unfolds itself on account of the
several colors [with which it is
painted], so Brahminhood is
similarly brought about by
samskaras performed according to
prescribed rites.
[sam (integrative prefix), kr-: to do,
to make; ritual forming of the

Parasana Smrti

eikon (eiken – to be like) – likeness, image
eikonismos - delineation/rough draft/sketch/ to draw as on a map
imago (same root as imitor/imitari) – death mask of an ancestor/
    imitative re-presentation in the death-mask of an ancestor (Przywara)/
    imitation, copy, semblance
pictura(same root as pictorius – pictorial) – painting

A pictorial image (schema) is not merely a replica of an external
object, but a unit of a structure(Frye), seen as part of a total pattern
or rhythm [rythmos – to articulate, impress, fit, form /meter – to
measure out as giving form].

Looking away from the "what", the meaning-content oriented
seeing (Habermas), one can grasp the interconnected structures
that make the whole into a painting, without it being a mimetic
image. A content is an accompaniment. The "how" characterizes
art: ars latet arte sua (art lies in its own art).

What use is there in trafficking in
something that, may be, should
not be sold, especially when it does
not sell?

Stephane Mallarme

The artist builds around himself his own solitude , such is his
fate (Ortega y Gasset). To paint is to decide for silence. While the
discourse of religion – cult and ritual – undergoes demythologization,
the "communicative rationality" (Habermas) becomes
remythologized: the linguistic turn of modernity, fetishization of
media-created discourse and images.
    In art, one is not besides oneself, but remains simply and
    totally in communion with oneself. To be exiled even within
    one’s community (Kierkegaard, Ortega y Gasset) is to be
    separated from the mass – "my circumstance" - , from the
    "crowd that is untruth" (Kierkegard), it means to recover
    "the flesh of the world" (Merleau-Ponty), it is a transgression
    of modernism, logocentrism , logophilia, and the herd, a
    transgression of plurality that eradicates difference.
The leveling of pasts, uncontrollable multiplication, the copy of
copies which allows neither original nor origin to exist (Deleuze),
the "absolute fake" (Eco), are offsprings of a present without
depth and a vacuum of memories: the eternal return as
parodic (Deleuze), the modern and neo-modern age and its
consummation as a self-perpetuating arrangement (Heidegger).
The main value of a mass-production is rather iconographic
than artistic, a charade of copies (Zimmer).

Meaning…becomes a central concern
precisely at that stage when a given
system of meanings is fallen into decay.
In periods of firmly established meanings,
one does not study them, one uses

Kenneth Burke

Forms/shapes have physical pregnance: de-formed but structurally stable
form resists the noise of perturbation (Thom). Theodore of Studion
underlines the peculiarities of pictorial space: even when the
various appearances of shape are not identical in detail, the
configuration continues to exist as such.

A pregnant/imprinted shape emerges from the diffuse surroundings
of probabilities (Goethe, Burckhardt). Time does not wear away
instances of pregnance: it brings things out that were not "in them"
all along (Blumenberg).

The investment of form with "sense" is what painting brings to
the fore, a structural articulation and play, outstripping and eroding
mimetology [impressing itself with an alien shape –mimesis-, it is
no longer itself and is also not the other (Schmidt, Gadamer)].
A texture/context/structure of distances, absences, and possibilities,
pressuposed/preconceptual understanding, creates significance:
possibilities lived as possibilities molding any presence.

Signs are instantaneous,
ephemeral concentrations of force.

Jean-Francois Lyotard

Significance – a pointing, lifting up into a definite context of reference-
is part of being-in-the-world, it is related to finitude: signification as
configuration that makes sense as such.
    Intention is more primitive that meaning (Luhmann, Husserl).
    There is nothing to understand, as the word "understand" is
    commonly used. One simply obeys a rule or sees something
    in a certain way without thought: understanding is a practical
    skill, custom, know-how (Wittgenstein).
    Every understanding of meaning is suspect of having been
    enforced through pseudo-communication (Habermas). Meaning
    is an ambiguous and inconsequential accident (Baudrillard).
    The primacy of interpretation over the sign is the decisive
    feature of modern hermeneutics (Foucault).
Metaphoric possibility of meaning arises from formal qualities,
a stratum of schematic aspects in which relations on the level of
form lead one to believe that a relation should exist also on the
level of signification (Eco): man’s semiotic potential of giving
signification (Gombrich).
    In the historical world of culture things have valences different
    from the objective world of science where the distribution of
    subjective value tends to zero (Rothacker). The hominid has
    to deal with the failure of the indicators and determinants of
    his behaviour: he sets up "significances" over against
    meaninglessness of the world (Blumenberg). The form-alism
    is assigned meaning (Weizsacker). Man lives while giving
    meanings to his world (Heidegger).

Every utterance is deficient – that is,
we never manage to say entirely what
we mean to say…
Every utterance is exuberant – that is,
our pronouncements always manifest
much more than we intend.

Jose Ortega y Gasset

contentum – that which is contained in anything/subject matter
subjectum - subject matter
subicere (sub-jacere) –to throw/cast/subordinate/in state of dependence

The price of freely chosen rules/no rules is that they have not the least
fertility – if rules are reduced to subjective habit, they have no
objective grounding.
    If there is no more to painting than what one arbitrarily defines
    into it, there is no more than a multiplicity of private symbol
    systems (Bachelard).

    If painting is a "mirror image", the subjectivity of the viewer is
    a distorting mirror.
If "meaning" is "mattering"(value, purpose, intentionality) plus
"signifying" (signs intelligible in local contexts), as Caws writes,
then contents, the figurative shapes incorporated into the pictorial
structure, are signs and symbols commissioned by/for the viewer
and manipulated by belief states, a society’s or period’s
imaginary (Castoriadis).

© 2001 Stefan Arteni
& Myriam S.P.de Arteni
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