Is this nothing yet?

A lifetime of making art is sometimes referred to as a paring down of an idea to its most simple elements. It is also described as the singling out of a question of interest and through repetition, refining how that question is asked. I continue to put the words together to give texture to the nothing-ness that is at the heart of the work I begin here.  I am wondering what is the question that defines my work as an artist? What feeds my desire to make art?

 I discover that I like running. Something in the rhythm and repetition of the movement allows my mind to wander and sometimes, I will suddenly find that I am in a conversation with myself. It almost sounds like it is continuous and occasionally, if I can find the right frequency, I get to listen in. Sometimes it’s just chatter, sometimes it’s really interesting.  Hope is a word that I heard this morning while running. I have come to Paris to look once again at the nothing/ness or empty/ness that defined my being for so long and to try again to transform what felt like hopelessness into something else. Maybe a part of my work as an artist is about making hope.

There are currently two solo/retrospective exhibitions in Paris by the British and Japanese artists, Bridget Riley and Yoyai Kosama. Both women are in their late seventies and both made work specifically for these installations. Questions regarding visual perception and sensory experiences are definitely central preoccupations for both of these artists. Impressive is the relentless and obsessive refining of these questions by both Riley and Kosama. Riley asks how the perception of colour and line can be changed by rhythm and pattern – a kind of alternating of what she calls periods of rest and disturbance.  Kosama asks if it is possible to eliminate both herself and her spectators through the application of a repetitive dot motif. Kosama has definitely succeeded in “self-obliteration” as she calls it. After a burnout in the early 70’s, she entered a phsychiatric hospital in Tokyo and has spent the last part of her life there continuing to work as an artist.

Can too much repetition make your question disappear?