Sources of Painting

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, opus 1738, acrylic, 2013

Q: So you see internal necessity as a cognitive thing.  At least in your painting.

ReeL: That fits for a lot of what is going on in my painting.  It’s a lot about cognitive processing.   Yes.

Q: Do you see that for all painting? Or what painting should be?

ReeL: I’ve done painting that is not non-objective, even representational. Like I said earlier, I’ve always been a bit of a Jungian. There’s a whole mythic level of the psyche in there that can drive internal necessity as well. I see that as a totally valid place from which to approach painting.

It does not necessarily have to be abstracted from external reality, either.  It doesn’t necessarily have to drive painting derived from the external  world of phenomena, the material world.

Q: But it is pretty much built up out of experiences of that world, and art based on it  is going to have references to that experience and the things in that world.

ReeL: Not necessarily. For the most part, throughout the history of Modernist painting it does, and definitely for everything anyone has called Post-Modernist art.

But I don’t see that as a true limitation. You can have non-objective content coming out of the psyche. But again we are closer to the realm of the cognitive when we talk like that.

There are cognitive scientists out there  who are exploring that very thing: structures and pre-structures in our psyche that condition and drive our cognitive processing.  A lot of it is evidently mathematical, working with pure mathematical structures,  like algorithms in our brains.

One of the reasons I  liked it when someone called my painting “pre-linguistic” or containing a sort of “proto-language” of markings is that it is about how my mind works, prior to language getting involved.

This ties in with  a lot of what is going on in recent cognitive research. We have an incredibly abstract machinery, a lot of it is quite mathematical,  in our psyche driving a lot of our cognitive processing.  When I paint I feel I am getting at that. I certainly experience it as pre-linguistic.

Q; that is prior to the world?

ReeL: That is at least prior to our cognitive processing of the world.  Whether it is truly a priori … we don’t want to get into that one  here.  We’ll get way too bogged down in technical issues for an interview. The real point, for me, is that my painting has a lot to do with this level of cognitive processing, this non-objective terrain that exists in our mind, not in the world of material things.  My work is radically non-thing-like. It is not oriented toward things or thing-ness in any way.

At this point, I am not interested in making things, nor referring to them, and certainly not in representing them.

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