Martin Schmandt
SEE IT CLEARLY,
LIVE IT FULLY.
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Letter

Though presence is simple, experience is complex. The boundaries between inner and outer, if there are any, are not clear. 

Observe your experience for a moment and you get something like. . . a sense impression, a memory, a bodily sensation, an anxiety, another sense impression, a desire: in experience, these overlap, affect each other, make up a fabric in which things flow in and out of consciousness.

This fabric, with its characteristic dynamic, its music, its poetic resonance, is life, and is what we are.

Even within a visual impression, one part of the field of vision will be in focus, generally because of corollary thoughts and feelings, while the rest remains a vague though mood-laden backdrop. One part of a sensory field can be more intimately connected to an inner emotion than it is to the rest of the sensory field, so the boundaries are not where they might be assumed to be.

For me, a poem or a picture can be a conscious attempt to formulate this complexity, to discover and highlight a particular life-resonance. A successful picture will navigate many layers while also having an immediate emotional impact.

That is one way of looking at it, and it perhaps accounts for the complex, layered quality of much of my work. I’m interested in how we “boundary” our experience, and I love what different treatment of edges can do artistically. I tend to paint with considerable detail both because I love what things look like and because the detail creates foci that play against the more elusive (but equally important) subtle overall movements of a composition.

There is also, for me, the sheer visual exhilaration of a visual field that is both rich and highly organised. The composition is for me a matter of relationships across the picture plane that move the eye and the psyche around, and so create a kind of musical tension and movement.

The composition is also what allows even a very complex picture to be a powerful, simple presence. The picture should give itself immediately as a whole, even while allowing the possibility of long perusal.

I play with different kinds of surfaces within a picture, trying to make each piece a compelling object, and I play illusionistically rounded forms against flat design, but I tend to stay with the two dimensions of painting and drawing. Perhaps just because that is what I’m best at. Perhaps because of a sense of rightness I feel when I read the thought in current physics that the universe we know is basically a two-dimensional fabric, that even the wormholes into the other dimensions and universes are within that fabric.

Though I don’t think my paintings could have been painted much before now, I know my art is pretty traditional in both means and ends. Tenderness, beauty, pity, love, fear, joy, desire, anger, questioning, enactments of the mind and heart—these are what it comes down to.

And though I am not particularly politically active, to dwell on this level of life also feels to me an act of liberty and depth which, given the circumstances, is almost subversive.