Bernar Venet: Another Language for Painting
“To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings.' It is to turn the world into this world. ('This world'! As if there were any other.)” In 1963, art critic Susan Sontag discussed the consequences of over-interpretation in her essay collection Against Interpretation. This corresponds to another practice initiated by the Minimalists in the 1960s: they stopped giving works and materials any symbolic meaning, rejected psychological metaphors, and took the meaning of art out of the language of the individual to search for a universal language in the public space as the way to reveal the nature of things.
Venet shares this view, believing that personal expression does not offer help to the real world. If art is in the end a personal expression, then what it ultimately leads to is merely the individual psychological emotions, the personal feelings, the personal beliefs, or even a personal view of the universe of the artist. The use of mathematics is Venet's rejection against "expression" and "interpretation". He rejects any ambiguous pictorial metaphors and pursues the singularity of meaning by translating a series of rational mathematical words into diagrams, so that the work can only be read in the mathematical dimension, and no other contexts, whether philosophical, religious or sociological.
Photos by Liu Xiangli, © HEM