COMPOSITION WITH YELLOW LINES
V.H, 2010. Oil on canvas, 20″ x 20″
Framed original available for purchase
Prints available for purchase
Art historian Rosalind E. Krauss (1941- ) brought to light the issue of the use of the grid in 20 th century art
and whether it “portends the centrifugal or centripetal existence of the work of art.” Her observation was that a grid, by its very definition, extends in all directions to infinity and that “any boundaries imposed upon it by a given painting… can only be seen… as arbitrary…” Thus, the work of art is only a fragment cropped from an “infinitely larger fabric” and we are forced to view the art as if it were continuing beyond the frame. This, according to Krauss, is a centrifugal reading. The centripetal, however, is the reading where the art is a re-representation of “everything that separates the work of art from the world.” This duality and conflict of readings has been readily expressed in Mondrian’s (1872-1944) mature style through the contrast of black grids that are never allowed to “reach the outer margins of the work” and those that are.
The exploration of the existence and nature of the soul has been varied throughout history. The understanding I have, as a Baha’i, is that the soul is what animates the discovering powers and rationality of humans – it is both part of the human being and not physically linked to it. Krauss’ centrifugal interpretation of the grid conceptualizes the relation of the body to the soul. The yellow lines in this work are physically observable. Like the body of a human being, it exists in plain sight. Beyond the canvas, however, the lines meet in an incorporeal intersection, one that is not manifested materially and yet exists in a state that may be described as “spiritual”. The physically apparent lines within the frame and its qualities act as evidence of the external and immaterial continuity of the painting. This is meant to be a metaphor for the proofs of the existence of the soul, or, as how I see it, through the existence of physical beings and their capacities, we witness the expression of immaterial qualities and virtues, such as unity and love. Though the essences of these virtues are spiritual, their expression is made possible through material beings. With this observation, one can begin to see insights of the many evidences of a nature and force that is beyond the physical and observable.