Philippe De Jonckheere, Tas, liquid emulsion on paper, variable sizes, Portsmouth, 1996.


... ( ... ) ... There is a famous story about Franz Kline when he was attending a social dinner during which one of the guests, who had just been to the last Barnett Newman's opening and was pretty irate about it, was saying that he thought that Newman was "getting away with" vertical stripes, basically. Kline asked the guest then to describe the paintings, inquiring about every single details: were the stripes always in the middle of the paintings?, were the stripes absolutely straight or did some of them seem carelessly painted?, were the stripes painted over the background or was it the background that was painted over the stripes?, were the stripes always of a complementary color from the background?, lighter or darker? and so on. The guest became very confused to which Kline closed the debate by saying that these paintings seemed a lot more complicated than what they appeared to be.
One day Barbara showed me some pictures that she had just taken, actually the prints had just been received from the lab. The pictures represented (this verb expresses so poorly what Barbara actually manages to do with her subject matters) stones in the sand. There were many pictures. I didn't know what to say about them, and forgetting all shyness and modesty, I began to think that Barbara had finally lost it, that she was no longer able to tell a good picture from a lousy one. And just as I was about to say something really dumb, she rescued me and said, didn't you notice that only the first pile has pictures that feature one stone, that the second pile is of pictures with two stones, the third pile three stones and the fourth pile has pictures of four or more stones?
And indeed it made a difference, those pictures were like a musical score, if you are not a musician all you see is black dots unevenly thrown on black horizontal lines. If you are a musician this is music to your ears. Barbara had just taught me to open my eyes and to become a musician.

Next lesson.