painting the invisible…


14/05/2011 by Sarah Ritchie

Have to ever tried to paint “intangibles”? The things you can’t see or touch or taste? The things without form, colour or texture?

I am presented with a challenge. I have a painting, in my head, that is full of intangibles (nine of them to be exact), and I am stuck as to how to get them out of my head and onto the canvas in a way that others can still appreciate what they are.

I could take the literal route and represent each intangible with a symbol. For example, a dove could represent “peace”, or a heart could convey “love”, but I am concerned that symbolism will border on cliche. I am approaching the point in my reckoning where the best avenue to take might be abstract representation…but I don’t want my meaning to be lost. Oh, what to do?!

Wassily Kandinsky (the famous Russian painter) seemed to have this all worked out (see the Kandinskian equation below), and his theory points directly to abstract as the answer. Perhaps I just have to try and see, and perhaps it is the title that you assign to the painting that will give a viewer clues to the meaning. The fact that the artist (or a written synopsis) is not present to interpret the painting is one of the greatest downfalls and yet one of the greatest advantages of art. A paradox of Kandinskian proportions!

Composition VI Wassily Kandinsky 1913

"Composition VI", Wassily Kandinsky (1913)

“[Wassily] Kandinsky calls abstract the content that painting must express, that’s to say this invisible life that we are. In such a way that the Kandinskian equation, to which we have alluded to, can be written in reality as follows : Interior = interiority = invisible = life = pathos = abstract.” (Michel Henry, Seeing the Invisible, on Kandinsky)


One thought on “painting the invisible…

  1. […] too, am chasing that ability to paint intangibles such as happiness. It is certainly interesting to see how people have visually interpreted the […]

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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
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© Sarah Ritchie 2014

Please do not use copies of my original artwork for profit, however you are welcome to share my artwork images as much as you like!

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