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Three years ago I attended Yasmina Reza’s play ‘Art’ at The Old Vic in London, a play originally staged in the late twentieth century. Ambivalent towards any artist who chooses to paint a canvas white of its entirety, with the infallible white strokes of a painter’s brush, the protagonist Marc in Reza’s play is lost in such terror that he is compelled to destroy the white painting. Reza’s play speaks loudly and subjectively about the white square in art, and for Reza, our minds endeavour to unpick an even bigger question – the very purpose of art, the reasons for its infallible power, and to what state the singular token of blankness has delivered us.


My aim in my newest work has been to make my work subject to the panoramic and primordial quality nothingness evokes. The principal intention has been to focus on the conversation between concurrent contemporary philosophers who are most engaged with the question of Neutralism and Nothingness in art, focusing on the viewpoints of Craig Dworkin, Roland Barthes, Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto, and John Cage, in particular, while also approaching several non-contemporary thinkers: Maurice Blanchot, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, and Martin Heidegger.


For what it is, the first white painting can be traced back to Kazimer Malevich, concepted in 1917. It was as though, for the first time, something was painted that wasn’t a painting of anything. Yet, even unchained from the burden of representation, Malevich’s sheer pineal eye naturally baffles. Malevich was unusual by his craft and especially of his times, but the purity of Malevich’s ‘White on White’ painting was not because of it's  whiteness, but only in part. For above anything else, Malevich strove to create a work of art of pure and undisputable perfection, by every thick brush stroke, by varied gradients of white, of lines and form perfectly nuanced, princes of absolute abstraction like John Cage’s silent songs, encapsulated by the painters brush and left to frost. Malevich was determined on the embodiment of a unified plane of consciousness, abstaining from social agenda to enthral with the purest symbology of all-ness art could take, as if a strike of light. 


Malevich’s objective was partly that of Korean monochrome artists belonging to the Danseakhwa movement. The monochrome painting used in Danseakhwa is a symbol of new beginnings, for politics great reduction, and for forming protest from neutralism. Lee Dong-Youb, Ha Chong-hyun, Yun Hyong-keun, Hur Hwang, Lee Ufan, and Park Seo-bo represent just some of the monochrome artists which are part of the Danseakhwa movement. Indeed, since Malevich, the white canvas has been recreated by several worldly-acclaimed artists such as Anish Kapoor, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, and Ad Reinhart. Most notably was Rauschenberg’s ‘White Paintings’ which he executed in the late nineteen-fifties, applying white paint by roller to canvas. With conscious organisations of absence alone, I too have created art-pieces of exquisite logic, where total abstraction and sensitive reproach from arbitrariness brings us to a pre-natal sense of new beginnings, where it might be possible to find a sort of neutral politics.


The idea is that it is not set in stone that nothingness paradoxically negates to one thing or another, but naturally generates something beyond representation, a meaning beyond knowledge or full of all-encompassing meaning. From a place of unfettered neutrality, of pure clear-sightedness, we can present our self against the grain of knowledge, as a white storm. Surrendered to that eternal abyss of no sight whatsoever, or any thought whatsoever, we might find in that non-existence a sort of awakening, and truly see ourselves.

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