Monday, July 23, 2007

Christopher Stott: Sharing the Wisdom

The space in this work appears open, unclosed to be more specific. There is only one wall bordering it; the window's shadow hints at the open space outside. Multiple lines criss-cross the room: the chairs, again, the shadow from the window, the books, and the line on the wall. These lines serve the purpose of a fence; combined, they remind the viewer that this is a private space, and, subsequently, that reading is a deeply private activity and experience. But they are thin and delicate: one doesn't flaunt one's knowledge (by an otherwise inconspicuous guarding method), and, should be prepared to share the wisdom (let it percolate through the thin bars), if the opponents are refined enough in their approach to the owner. This is not a Faustian dark cellar. Tragedies are at bay here: pragmatic optimism luminesces from the epicenter of my understanding of that piece. This work generates a sense of freedom and future.

The composition is quite complex: many objects, some of them small; the light and the shadows are an additional object in the painting, taking up the theoretical role mentioned above; two different chairs; the surface of the wall and of the floor -- two perpendicular planes, with corresponding roles in conveying a hidden facet of the imagined owner's mind (the wall, unlit) and a shared one (the floor, lit). Notably, the books interweave light with shadow... Three principal elements -- the light, the books and the chairs -- form the perfect reading environment. The arrangement is effective, as the golden center is very close to where the books almost touch, as if in an exchange of content. Thus, the artist's intent, as it is expressed in the title, is anchored in a mathematical point of rest, possibly the strongest there is.

There are sixteen books, eight in each pile. Some tomes seem quite heavy; probably encyclopedia volumes. Dictionaries, art history monographs also come to mind. But, unless the artist shares this with the observer, it will remain private. Perhaps it should. Some things attract more when kept in the dark.

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