Painting silence, painting lightness – meaning and ‘semiose’ Living in cities the possibility exists that you lost your connection with nature and with the surrounding landscape outside the inhabited world. Buildings and streets are part of your environment and they are now the new landscape you live in. Lost is the memory of how a wild and inhabited landscape can be. Only holidays in strange countries can give you a feeling of a landscape that always has exist but that is maybe banished from your memory when you live in the cities. In my paintings I reflect on this status of the landscape outside the inhabited world. Mountains, moorland, desert, sea and rivers have a natural appearance mostly untouched (at first glance) by mankind. Of course this is not completely true because mankind has left its marks on nature. But a huge mountain or a dark moor has an attraction of his own and in painting these natural phenomena you can get some feeling of involvement and being part of this landscape. In traditional Japanese/Chinese painting these connection with nature, with the mountain (often holy places), the sea and the lakes is imagined. Rain and snow are not only natural phenomena, they have a special meaning because they represent the movement from heaven to earth. This sacral aspect of the landscape and of the natural places in this landscape has my special attention in painting. Therefore the horizon is an import part of my paintings because heaven and earth are meeting each other in the horizon. Of course this is an metaphorical way of speaking but nevertheless it makes some sense because you can call our life an accumulation of meanings. We have a special name for it: “semiose”, giving sense to life in an semiotic way, using signs and everything what is connected, to express ourselves. Our language is a wonderful example of this process. Words and images together give a basis to our lives and our identity. Without we got lost in this reality. Painting in my opinion is more than only give sense to your life by doing so. As a semiotic act you present your painting and the spectator gives his own meaning, his comment on what he sees, with his own experiences as a background. As it is finished, the painting (as a product) become a new life. Spectators, art dealers do what they want with this product. It can be forgotten or it becomes a special attraction in a museum or gallery. At once a new set of meanings, a new sense is taking over: money rules the world and this also applies to works of art. But the natural landscape, the wild river, the mountain or the moorland is not monetized. Rain and Snow have an own special sense and making this visible is a special task for me to do so. Silence and the light in the landscape, the lightness of being in the landscape, the natural flow of things, of plants and trees, of water running down a hill, the sound of the fog early in the morning, all these events are special for him who wants to see it. Experiencing the landscape in this way can give a special dimension how you experience your own identity and your own life. Questions like ‘were are you living for’ , ‘what makes my life special’ and ‘what is really important in my life and what not’ can arise and are pressing for an answer. So the landscape can shape your meanings in a new way. When the spectator of my paintings get started in a private way with the meanings of my paintings I’m satisfied. As they excite the imagination of the spectator and encourage new meanings in the life of the spectator, it is all right. The paintings starting a new life in this process of ‘semiose’ in the context of the spectators. So my paintings give something to think about. They are an invitation to discover new meanings.
John Hacking 13 October 2015
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