Painting has always been a practice whose contexts embrace in multiple relations with the simulacrum and in which the distinction between art, reality and everyday life is diluted in the image. As Didi-Huberman reminds us (2012: 191), during the creation and interpretation process of the image, we have to consider the dialectic of the image because “if we ignore this dialectic work of the images, we risk not understanding anything and confusing everything”. The relationship of dialectic resemblance with reality is one of the necessary conditions to get to know and to think the image. This means that the association of the image with reality is inseparable from its context or origin. Thus, the knowledge of an image happens by means of other images, other sources, and other contexts.
Film and painting are the first and more privileged means that build this dialectic of images. The migration from painting to film, and from film to painting may be thought as a reference and identity model by which an image adopts or borrows similarities from other contexts and images. It is not by chance that the concept of montage, that has traversed (and still does) the creation process of the image (Warburg, 2010) throughout the History of Art, proves that an image does not refer only to itself. Moreover, between cinema and painting there is a whole world of references more or less farsighted with what has already been done throughout the history of images. Still, the reflection on the dialogue between painting and film is also a question about the ways of operating the image, that is, the processes that generate and create those images. Whether in film or in painting, the making of an image is always a disruptive act. One of these disruptive strategies is the dialogue with the opposites: wait/act, full/empty, unite/separate. In these antitheses, there is an understanding of space as scenery where an event is built, between light and dark, shot and framing. This relationship implies the existence of clippings of times and spaces in a single pictorial and/or cinematographic shot. It is in their intersection point that the viewer’s gaze resides. In this boundary between the space of the spectator and the space of the image, a frontier is drawn: a striking line of shadow and, with it, a gap between the visible and the invisible. As we become aware of this frontier, we are not only transforming the images in object of thought, but also, above all, allowing ourselves to approach the restlessness of reality.
In a society where all concepts are questioned, there is a greater problematization in terms of (re)assessments and (re)validations in the domain of reality. We live in a time of introversion, imperturbably away from ourselves. Lipovetsky (1989), noting that main value of postmodern culture is individualism, proposes a process of personalization going from a limited form of individualism to total individualism. During this transition, we open a possibility of choosing between seeing and looking. It is in this choice that we expose ourselves to reality, when we look at what is most essential in the search for self-awareness.
Baudrillard’s important philosophical and sociological approach of simulation (1991) is part of a crucial distinction between simulation and dissimulation. According to Baudrillard (1991: 10), to simulate relates to an absence, by pretending to have what one does not have, while to dissimulate is a presence, because it is pretending not to have what one does have. Thus, because simulation is an absence, there is no possible relationship with reality, just because “it is its own pure simulacrum” (Baudrillard, 1991: 10). Therefore, one could say that reality does not hide anything, since it is the simulacrum itself. Confronting reality is always a loose fragment that makes it happen. It is a conflict enclosed in a will to overcome limits, to surpass what has been stipulated; an experience that is made of fables and myths, and alternates between ecstasy and depression. The simulacrum conceals, comfortably, the truth from us – the truth that there is no truth. Ironically, we are trapped by our own conscience, which we simulate when we choose the illusion. Reality becomes fabulation. Because of this, life is like an idea. An idea is just an idea before it comes true. Thus, our fragility is so great that we become actors of our own lives.
We live and we defend ourselves with autocelebration of speed. In the emergence of time, we do not even notice the expansion of what can be the account of banality. Confronting reality implies, after all, a conflict with the unveiling of illusion and, thus, another form of expression, another way of inserting oneself within reality itself. The outer environment is therefore only a starting point for the (re)discovery of another territory – and this territory will certainly be immaterial. Only in this way, behind our masked scenographies, can we see looking. And little by little we realize that the gaze is a pain that one discovers. It is, however, in this discovery that we can examine what is beyond the realm of the visible: the sound of our steps. Then, we can confront reality and have it as the truth that makes us happen. To announce it is to materialize it in time, and it’s in our memory that it survives. As Eco (2008) points out, “Even if the technical-structural criteria are met, an emotional and intellectual relationship must and can be rediscovered, to discover a vision of the world and of man”.
It is in this conceptual framework, along with a permanent doubt and restlessness, that the act of creation lies. “Imagination is not, as we often believe, an abandonment to the mirages of a single reflection, but construction and assembling of plural forms placed in correspondence” (Didi-Huberman, 2012: 155). In its process, there are aspects left unsaid, reminiscent memories, past images, moments that cannot be recovered. The temptation of staging what is true is what drives me when I paint. To maintain it is to go through the world of what cannot be seen, of what cannot be understood. In the violence and toughness of the gesture that I imprint in my paintings, there are existential interests, impulses, doubts, longings, all interconnected in a reciprocal struggle between the space of painting and my personal space. Conflit, friction, repetition. It is a statement in the form of gesture and, therefore, internal to the representation itself. When I repeat, I simulate and I conceal by revealing. The painting conceals by revealing what it leaves behind.
It is to the painting that I direct this thought of mine, whenever I offer myself to it, bringing as a token of its strength the act of confession of my own self. In this surrender, I think I can find an answer to the understanding of myself and of the world. It is to the painting that I address myself whenever it gives me the opportunity to decide who I am and who I choose to be. Only because I need it.
Joana de Carvalho e Silva
Braudillard, Jean (1991). Simulacros e Simulação. Lisboa: Relógio D’ Água.
Didi-Huberman, Georges (2012). Imagens apesar de tudo. Lisboa: IMAGO.
Eco, Umberto (2008). A Definição da Arte, Lisboa: Arte & Comunicação.
Lipovetsky, Gilles (1989). A Era do Vazio. Lisboa: Relógio d’Água.
Warburg, Aby (2010). Atlas Mnemosyne. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.