Montréal (from a taped interview, 29 March 1967)
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(Four sections) abcd Hommage à Samuel Beckett 1967
(Four elements) Steel, Bostik urethane coating 120"H,30"W,30"D
I try to reconstruct Mondrian's message. Only by linking oneself with what was meaningful in the past, only by comprehending it, can one go forward.
My own first significant discovery was that there was no space in painting. This occured to me in 1964. A lot of my ideas in sculpture came out of that discovery: that space was something created by the spectator. In the monolithic concept, space was inside the painting, inside the sculpture. For me, space is neither interior nor exterior, but in the fourth dimension of perception. Space to me is a continuum in the mind and exists outside the mind.
Calder, the first great innovator in sculpture (he has stated that his first work came from Mondrian) explored a similar kind of space in his mobiles. But this exploration was purely visual, taken from a bird's-eyeview. To enter the space of the mobile, one would have to be a bird! In Calder, what one had was a kind of bird-cage, in which the events of space were always linked by a wire to the nucleus. as in a skeleton, or the nervous System. The mobile turned on its axis and each of the elements related to that axis: everything swung from that traditional, centrifugal point. What Calder gave us was a skeleton-view of the monolith. If he had taken the skeleton apart, if he had motorized his separate elements and allowed them to rotate like satellites in relation to one another, he would have liberated them from the connecting wire, the physical link. What I want to express are these unrelated elements. In Hommage à Samuel Beckett the link between my colour-columns is purely visual and mental. In a way, I am doing with sculpture what Calder has done with the mobile, but in my work there is no axis. There is not one single focal point where the sculpture "is". It is perceived from any point of view by the spectator who explores it; first, by visual projection into the open area not occupied by masses of colour-energy, and secondiy, by physical intrusion of himself into the worid of objects. As he moves through and around the elements of the configuration, he perceives multiple correlated, simultaneous and converging energies and organizes a new concept of a plastic space-time continuum.
Sculpture until now has been a mirror-projection of the narcissistic being. Ail known forms are forms the body could take. The nail on a finger is like a leaf on a twig. Sculpture scaled to human proportions is still another self-portrait. And so, in one sense, each of my column-elements is a kind of symbolic volume, a mirror extension of the spectator. What he sees is himself: he is red, he is blue, he is yellow, he is green. But all perceived shapes are also a projection of the self into the other. What I express is beyond narcissism. I bring the spectator in front not only of himself, but also of the continuum the world of multiple perception, the presences of the other.
I feel my work for some time will involve the use of strong colours which radiate energy and act as a scale for expressing the extension and expansion of being. In my painting, the bands of colour might measure the same, but in terms of colour-energy their size is varied. So too with my sculpture: the yellow element is larger. the blue smaller, in the way they relate to light. Energy, as it is proper to each particular colour, here acts as a visual link between the columns, holding them in a dual relationship of antagonism and identity.
Why suck the spectator into a pocket? These "avant-garde" pocket-environments transformed by the artist that is a Renaissance idea, like the picture-as-window, the painting-as-stage. For me, a work of art is like a new planet, a new sun; and its environment is the universe!
In my sculpture configuration I see totality. l could spend my whole life placing and replacing these elements, each one like a sundial, projecting its energy like a radiant shadow. Just by moving one element, I can transform the world!
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