THE ENCRYPTED FORM / Susannah Martin, Joshua Hagler, Joseba Eskubi, Radu Tuian

The exhibition THE ENCRYPTED FORM / Susannah Martin, Joshua Hagler, Joseba Eskubi, Radu Tuian took place from 2nd of June until 30th of June 2017. The opening day was on 1st of June 2017.

The history of human artistic production has always circled around one central concern; the difference between art and reality. On the one end of the spectrum, painters have attempted to dissolve the line between representation and reality through perfecting the art of visual illusion. Classical painting techniques such as pictorial space, perspective and hyper-realistic execution may be used to create an illusion and “fool the eye” in order to temporarily transport the viewer into a convincingly alternative reality. On the other end of the spectrum, painters of the last century have also broken radically with techniques of imitation and illusion by creating visual forms which are completely distinct from those forms which we encounter in real existing things. In between these two poles lies an infinite realm of possibilities for representation, abstraction and interpretation. According to Arthur Danto, we must be conscious of the difference between a work of art and reality in order to be able to consider that artwork a work of art; “Art fails if it is indiscernible from reality, and it equally if oppositely fails if it is not”.

In other words, a work of art must both separate itself from reality and yet refer to the real world in order to be considered an artwork. From the moment that we are conscious of something being a work of art, we begin to subject it to interpretation. Our minds will take whatever visual information we are given and begin to fill in any missing information from the massive collection of images, ideas and experiences stored in our brains. The realistic painter will make use of artistic illusion to supply a maximum amount of information to trigger a cognitive interpretation with maximum precision and specificity. The abstract painter will make use of codified or encrypted visual clues to invite an interpretation with minimum specificity and maximum flexibility for the individual observer. Typically, in the art world, these two directions in painting have been kept separate from one another like two boxers in their corners waiting for the bell to ring and the fighting to commence. And yet in reality they simply occupy two sides of the same coin. Visual information triggers responses both cognitive or mental as well as emotional and physical. Abstract or encrypted images often, but not exclusively, recall experiences of what reality feels like. Realistic images often, but not exclusively, recall what reality looks like. Our sensual, emotional and cognitive understanding of the world can never be truly separated and no means of communication is ever complete in and of itself. It takes an infinite variety of methods and forms of visual communication to even come close to stimulating all the complexities of the human mind. There is no right or wrong way to go about understanding ourselves.

This exhibition brings together four painters; Joseba Eskubi, Joshua Hagler, Susannah Martin and Radu Tuian. Each one of these painters may be considered to occupy a different position on the spectrum running from figurative realism to codified abstraction. Further extremes exist on both ends of the scale as well as infinite examples in between. The beauty of painting at this moment in time is that it has finally shed the confines of “isms“ and categorically imposed norms of stylistic acceptability in favor of a liberal diversity which more accurately mirrors the complexity of the human experience.

Text Susannah Martin


25th of January until 09th of March 2019