Before… or beyond, content: before… or beyond us. An instruction inscribed on the surface of the object, matter of the art work. A determinant of its meaning… its claim to matter.
Informed by texture. On the role of non-content in meaning (the texture of paper, dominant type of brush stroke, paint type and thickness). The visual feel of the paper, a reminder of its presence against the illusionism of the image, unlike the material used in traditional sculpture, shows or signals the presence of a world (this will not apply to modern assemblages where the ‘found’ materials are the very ‘matter’ of the content, nor to abstract works which often foreground the means of presentation or the ‘signifier’). A clue or cue is proffered as to the world of the (implied) viewer. In this way is transmitted the ideology, the point of view, the world outlook of the artist or their significant milieu; the cradle from which is given birth the very meaning of the work (of art).
For such a grain, wash, texture or other significant marking or super-imposition acts like a filter or a framing device; a personal message delivered by matters to which we may not always consciously attend, but which tell us how we must see the content of the image itself. The depicted scene of the art-work is re-informed by the texture of the paint and the paper (unlike traditional painting or sculpture where the material is only rarely called upon to play this role). The texture then, may suggest a frame of reference (temporal or a-temporal, mood of melancholy or crisp joy), an overall ‘feel’, a projection from which we make the meaning, something which will adhere to the content, to the depicted object or form - in a word… a ‘world’.
The grain of the paper, the texture of the paint, the predominance of a kind of brushstroke, all of these may suggest a veiling of the image, at once making present and concealing (the act of offering and of occlusion in the same gesture) and so a semi-presencing, a viewing at one remove (like the use of black and white in film or photography) that may connote past or future, dream or ideal. And so also further indicate to us, as we continue take this route, the outside of time, the image of eternity. More often, however, we experience the second meanings marshalled by this form of image in a sublunary frame, connoting the hidden presence of a temporally bound meaning; memory or wish, epitaph or appeal, valediction or vision.
Surface indentation, the finger of the eye passing over the texture of paper, sensing the grain as pointing in one direction, index of further meaning.
Copyright Peter Nesteruk, 2008.