Bassoon Blue: The Painter and the Blind Composer – a dialogue – second post

Part 3: draft

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right.

Part 3

P

I appreciate, Composer, that you wished to touch all three paintings again. I often wish that those with eyes took such care. Is beauty in the fingers of the composer well enough now for me to attempt to rise to the occasion of your discourse on musical abstraction?

B

Yes, dear Painter. I have your work at my fingertips… So do proceed. I’ve even banished all thoughts of geometry, architecture, the human form, and all thoughts of realism, whatever that might be. I’m all ears.

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P

Good. Is the chair comfortable enough?

B

Do get on with it Painter!

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P

Ahem… Alright… We are in my studio. The walls are white, without color. The ceiling is high. The north wall is formed of large windows that allow the room to be filled with neutral light so it least effects the color of my paintings. This is important because color is light. Paint is the light reflected by pigment. Were the sun to shine on it directly, then it would distort the light of color. This may be similar to the way sound is reflected off the walls, ceiling and floor of the symphony hall. The way Bach’s Cello Suite #5 in C Minor sounds in the Berliner Philharmoniker sounds differently in the Royal Albert Hall.

B

So your paintings look different in different exhibition spaces?

P

Yes. So every individual painting has many different appearances, just as Bach’s Cello Suite # 5 sounds differently when, and wherever, it’s played.

B

So a painting is no different than an musical score?

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P

No. It isn’t. Which is why some painters, like Rothko, attempted to control the conditions of lighting in which his paintings were shown. Most museum’s don’t meet his conditions. So to truly see a Rothko painting, you have to travel to Houston to see his works in the Rothko Chapel. where those condition are met. What I’m trying to say is that, because ultimately, painting is about light, and light is variable, to experience, to see, a painting properly is similar to a musical performance in that there are more or less optimal conditions under which it can be viewed. Who is to say whether or not Gould’s Bach played on piano is better or worse than Savall’s Bach played on harpsichord?

B

So what you’re saying is that your bassoon blue has many shades of cobalt alone, depending on where, and how, it’s displayed?

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P

Exactly. Yes.

B

So, the painting I’ve touched and compared to the others, is not the only one? This one painting can take many different forms, or, appearances? So, like a score, IF I were able to see, it’s possible that I’d see it in many different ways?

P

Yes. That’s what I’m saying.

B

Alright then. That’s very helpful indeed. Every painting exists like a single note or chord within an envelope of grace notes. Okay. I understand that. Go on.

P

The painting before you is 2.5 meters high, and 1.5 meters wide, approximately. And it’s frame is 10 centimeters think, so depending on how it’s lighted, the frame casts a shadow that make it both a substantial object, while also making it seem to float over the surface of the wall.

B

Like a bassoon solo holding a C whole note for several measures?

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P

Yes. Like that, but not the same exactly. In the painting before you, there is a central motif of a blue so pale that it’s almost white. It’s shape, or form, is spatially three dimensional, while the painted marks, the lines or brush strokes that give it definition take the shape of an elongated human head, though less symmetrically shaped than that. And it’s not a solid object, doesn’t have a continuous surface, but is broken up by contour lines meant only to give it an approximate shape. If you had eyes, you’d see that it has an interior volume, that it is porous, that it is shape that floats, or is suspended in, a much denser background space that implies the physicality of a medium, a density of some other kind of matter, a matter of a different nature than what the motif shape is made of, like a human body floating in a river with it’s currents and eddies and whirlpools, and variable depths.

B

Like a first violinist playing a ‘solo’ line in the midst of a full orchestra accompaniament?

P

Yes. Nearly like that

B

Okay. I can imagine that. But what does it feel like? What is the fate of your motif? If it’s like a body suspended in a river, will it sink or swim? Is it part of the river? Or, is it ‘something’ else? It is emerging from the river? Or, is it dissolving into it?

P

Perhaps that is in the eye of the beholder.

B

Fair enough. But if it’s painted in the bassoon key of cobalt, then, musically speaking, your motif would be heavy, wouldn’t it? and therefore its natural tendency would be to sink?

P

It would, yes, if the motive were bassoon, or cobalt blue. But it isn’t. If you recall, the motif is a pale shade of blue, and therefore far lighter than cobalt, in the high pitch range of a bassoon, and therefore a figure that floats on the surface, in no danger of being submerged. It’s a dandelion bloom floating over the surface of a dark blue river. But one that’s always in danger of becoming saturated by the river’s substance, and, yes, of eventually becoming heavy and sinking. So it’s fate, in my painting, is depicted as not yet determined. A wind could still lift it into the air and blow it onto a shore where it might bloom again. Or, it might be eaten by a trout or be dashed against a rock where it would dry and die in the heat of the sun.

B

You’re sounding Wagnerian, Painter.

P

Well, I am, after all, dear Composer, German. Though, perhaps with a bit of late Turner mixed in. And I must say, I’ve traveled in Italy as well. But if were cornered, I’d say my influences are more Indian and/or Australian. With a bit of Venice, Rome, and southern Spain thrown in.

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B

Ah… I see….

Bassoon Blue: The Painter and the Blind Composer – a dialogue – second post

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