Sounds, Identities and Words

At my outer reaches it is still I.  I, imploring, I, the one who needs, the one who begs, the one who cries, the one
who grieves.  But the one who sings
Clarice Lispector,  
Soulstorm, 1974.

The more precise you are, the more general you become.
Diane Arbus.

Several years ago I lost all my paintings in a fire.  That’s when I began the pink paintings.  Pink seemed
appropriate:  new skin—new beginnings—baby girl—first steps.  I began drawing very simple units.  I was trying
to draw the thing we cannot speak about:  love.

Then I had a stroke.  For a time I lost the ability to speak.  So the black spills of paint are my way of making

I take comfort in the security of geometric shapes and other easily identifiable objects.

The words come from lists I could repeat, but couldn’t generate myself.  All they had in common was that they
began with the same phonetic sound.  I choose absurd combinations.  I remember battling to write.  Now I  am
saying “look, I can write”!  I am showing off.  I celebrate the ability to write.  As I throw the paint I am slightly out of
control.  Mistakes happen.  They are like springboards, I take off on them.

The variations of pink, occasionally yellow, and in the prints, the geometry, represent the spiritual for me.  In
Karen Armstrong’s words it’s the “cloud of unknowing”.  A silence which is something or nothing.

I contrast this silence with words, sounds and the identity of things.  Extreme contrasts seem to work.

The titles infer a meaning more poetic or humorous - an attempt to transcend the vicissitudes of a life.

Jo Smail
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