Lights and Shadows
In his book How to Destroy Painting, devoted to the art of Caravaggio, the French philosopher Louis Marin discusses the contribution of interplay between light and shadow in the painterly transformation achieved by Caravaggio. Marin opens up his chapter “On Light, Shadow, and Narrative” with Mancini’s words, an art collector and contemporary art critic of Caravaggio. Mancini shows how the play of light and shadow makes impossible the narrative in Caravaggio’s painting. The light is so bright and the shadow so dark as to create a certain sense of depth in the painting, which makes the story impossible to unfold. For that reason, concludes Mancini, these procedures are not appropriate for the composition of a story, and the expression of emotion. Of course, this is the point of view of the art critic defending the principles of Classical representation. But according to Marin, what is at stake in Caravaggio’s painting is what is at stake in all paintings. And it is exactly these procedures that led to the revolutionary shift performed by Caravaggio, “destroying” the representation. The question raised by Caravaggio in his art concerns the destruction of the painting in its Classical form, as well as the pleasure and jouissance the painting produces.
Light and shadow are powerful means of destruction and resurrection of painting. They destroy the mere re-presentation of a story, in order to bring forth the unique moment of life of creation in its utmost presence, in which painting shows its power as presentation. Light and shadow provide that unique pleasure of the contemplation of the moment, in which painting comes forth as sacrosanct instant. In short, this binomial opposition turns painting into a moment of presence, a presentation, radically distinct from mere re-presentation. A presentation is a story without story, because it does not properly narrate about something else, but in which painting itself voices its own story in the present. This is called the pregnant moment of painting, in which the contribution of light and shadow is capital, in their encounter suspending all time, history, and story. This is the instance in which art overcomes time, making image pregnant with meaning in a continuous present tense.
Victor Hagea’s painting Lights and Shadows shares in many ways the same artistic credo as Caravaggio. His poetic of image holds that radical and passionate aura. It brings forth in this painting a Venetian drama, which is a drama without a particular narrative, but the suspension in time of a magic momentum. This is the moment when lights meets shadows to create a universe of erosion, mystery and mist – an erotic space of dissolution. Hagea’s Light and Shadows is the instantiation of painting as a poetical state of mind, the immediate presentation of the inspiring lofty moment in which the hieroglyph-like body of the woman curves her silhouette in the air, as if eroded by the atmospheric mist. Yet she seems to dwell so firmly on the squared cube, the only solid object in the picture, albeit a phantasm of perception, a sublime illusionistic encounter between sharp light and deep shadow.
(Text by Nicoletta Isar •VICTOR HAGEA AMAZING ART• ISBN 13: 9789189685239)