David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

13 May 2015

A few pointers

1. More auction news : yesterday at Christie's New York the sculpture multiple (six casts plus one artist’s proof) L’homme au doigt (Pointing Man) by Alberto Giacometti sold for US$141.3 million. 

Christie's described the auction as a "curated sale", and further inflated this with the title Looking Forward to the Past

More from the Christie's promotional blurb :
Pointing Man is unquestionably Giacometti’s greatest sculpture,’ explains Jussi Pylkkanen, Global President of Christie’s. ‘Executed after the War in one incredible night of creative fervour, this noble figure points mankind to a brighter future beyond our limited horizons.
2. Sean Lowry's introduction to the exhibition  '_____'
at Margaret Lawrence Gallery, VCA, Melbourne, 
begins with a pointing :

Something else about nothing: blankness as medium
Sean Lowry
Catalogue essay for: '_____' 
April 10 – May 16, 2015
 Margaret Lawrence Gallery
40 Dodds St, Southbank Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. 

This exhibition points toward an aesthetic realm in which conspicuous absence demands that we look into, beyond or outside formal qualities and expectations of content. That some of the artists featured in this exhibition will disagree with most of what follows is in itself evidence of the varied nature of artistic responses to blankness and nothingness. Although we might infer the underlying operation of several divergent strategies for working at the limits of content and specificity within this exhibition, some artists will, I suspect, reject that this is what they are doing. Nevertheless, it is my task here to try and write something else about nothing. 

further on...
The walls in this exhibition space have been painted white many times. Somewhere inside these walls are the traces of previous artworks and exhibitions. Even this simple thought experiment requires uniting the material properties of paint with invisible functions of thought. Although these traces of previous exhibitions are now invisibly locked inside
these walls, the media required for communicating this idea are paint and words. Just as artworks assume a doubled ontological existence – insofar as they are art and at the same time something else – this text is also made up of semiotic units and the gallery walls of painted wood. Unless “pointed to”, much art is easily unnoticed. Also, without “pointing” it is also difficult to meaningfully delineate that which is inside and outside a work. 

and further on...
Although Malevich pointed toward blankness as a space for aesthetic speculation over a century ago, it was clear from the outset that there is no such thing as nothing in art. The many and varied evocations of nothingness in this exhibition alone attest to this impossibility. Instead, the idea of blankness underpinning this exhibition aims to evoke the productive sense of possibility suggested by an empty sheet of paper, an empty gallery space, an unpainted canvas, or a digital document devoid of information. By extension, it also performs the potential for empty space to foreshadow the irresolvable tension between doubt and hope underpinning the creative process itself. Blank space remains provisionally protected from the impending spectre of judgement. It is not yet a failure or a success – just a possibility of both. It also reflects the anxiety of having nothing to say or of corrupting the potential of a proverbial clean slate with the vulgarity of artistic expression. Although paralysing, it invites us to carry on. And as we carry on, we discover that blankness can also be thought of as the end result of erasure and removal, no longer a starting point but an unattainable resting place. 

and ... click here to read the full essay.
3. Hotei pointing at the moon (below) by Sengai :  in Buddhism, such pointing imagery is a reminder to those on the path not to fall short of the goal; not to fixate on the finger that points but to attend wholly to that at which the pointer points.

"My play with brush and ink is not calligraphy nor painting; 
yet unknowing people mistakenly think: 
this is calligraphy, this is painting."
Sengai Gibon (1750–1837)

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...