Something remembered. Something imagined.

Arrest - Gerhard Richter

There are some pieces of art that are striking not for what they do say, but rather for what they do not. I find these pieces uniquely powerful. With a correctly caught balance, their vagueness can be initially impenetrable, but all the more vivid as the viewer is urged to fill in the blanks for themselves.

Often relying on a memory of form to do this, such pieces establish an alarmingly intimate relationship with the viewer. Too clear a narrative, and the imagination is not stimulated. Too abstract, and their meaning is missed. Pieces that catch this balance are as clothes horses for the fabric of the mind, and the effect is extraordinary.

Seeing the human form is one of our most primitive urges, and for this reason (amongst many) artworks that refer even loosely to the figure will be read as such, and are captivating.

st matthew

St Matthew – Michaelangelo


Head – Hans Josephsohn

I wonder if architecture has an equivalent. Certainly the primitive hut has been suggested as the basis of classicism, its rudimentary form finessed through generations of mimesis.

Primitive Hut

For me, Romanesque architecture seems to capture this quality so well. It remembers classicism, but is no slave to its rigor. At the same time, its relaxed composition can be strikingly modern. It is at once implacable, but strangely familiar.

Le Thoronet Lucien Herve

Le Thoronet (image: Lucien Herve) 12th Century

Van Der Laan 1961

Vals Monastery, Architect Hans Van Der Laan 1961



One thought on “Deja Vu

  1. Another example of both an abstract and figurative painter is Frank Auerbach. He paints amazing elusive portraits, struggling to balance physiognomics with abstract expression. In music, many jazz pieces play with constructing and deconstructing familiar patterns that persists in our memories and anticipations.
    The leap to apply the same idea of implied signals to architecture is interesting. We could include fundamental modernist notions of space, wall, opening, door, roof etc as qualities that can all be materially incomplete, implied or suggested rather than wholly concrete. A pregnant architecture that is completed in our minds.

Any thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s