Exaggerating My Marks

Humanity is not produced by the way our eyes are implanted in us.

— Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Writing in The New Yorker this week, art critic Peter Schjeldahl says of Cezanne, “He revolutionized visual art, changing a practice of rendering illusions to one of aggregating marks that cohere in the mind rather than in the eye of a viewer.”

I am striving to exaggerate my marks, too, in hopes they cohere. A palette knife and a spatula are helping me do so.

But, to get technical, I think Peter Schjedahl has the locus of the impact—of the coherence—that Cezanne’s exaggerated marks achieve backwards.

Eye knows before mind. Before we see it, the eye magically compiles our world. The mind is last to “get the memo.”

Seeing itself is clairvoyance, as the Existentialist philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty so eloquently said.

We don’t see the world. We inhabit it via an “intertwining” [entrelacs].

Our humanity, our being-in-the-world, begins and ends at the point where the visible and the invisible merge: the eye.

“Humanity is not produced by the way our eyes are implanted in us,” Merleau-Ponty said. “Nor is it a question of a mind coming down from somewhere else into an automation.

“A human body is present when, between the viewer and the visible, a kind of crossover occurs.”

Above: Little Brown Jug. Oil on fiberboard. 8 x 10 inches. Ships framed and ready to hang.