In 1905, in a letter to his friend Emile Bernard, Cézanne wrote: “I owe you the truth in painting and I shall tell it to you.” This audacious claim is delivered without any further explanation. In fact, after this declaration Cézanne simply continues by sending his greetings to his friend’s family. This lack of context leaves us wondering, does Cézanne intend to tell this truth in words, in paint, or perhaps some other way? An ambiguous promise that remained opened for interpretation to this day and thus it also remains relevant.
In his book The Truth in Painting (trans. 1987) Jacques Derrida acknowledges that Cézanne’s assertion generates an insurmountable amount of possibilities for interpretation. Nevertheless, he states that what we can infer from Cézanne’s promise is that “what is at stake in painting is truth”. For this reason, we continue to find threads that lead us from painting into various and frequently contradictory directions while at the same time searching for some sort of truth, for lack of a better word.
MY RESPECTS TO MADAME BERNARD reveals the presence and influence of painting on an array of different artistic practices. While some of the artists in the exhibition have never touched a brush, preferring instead to engage with painting in a symbolic or metaphorical way, others choose to continue with the use of paint or indeed explore other formal aspects of the medium. The openness of the exhibition is an attempt to illustrate the far reach of painting, way beyond the limits of the traditional canvas. At the same time, it is an opportunity to speculate on the meaning that arises from bringing together and considering all these possible connections, even when seemingly far-fetched.
WITH: Alicja Bielawska [PL]| Elsbeth Ciesluk [NL]| Isabel Cordeiro [PT]| Timo van Grinsven [NL]| Raphael Langmair [CH]| Ruth Legg [GB]| Linda Lenssen [NL]| Marien Schouten [NL]| Ran Zhang [CN]
© 2020 Isabel Cordeiro