'Testing the Sublime Limits of Vision' – Tina Mammoser
Opening night preview - Thursday 15th March (5pm -9pm)
Opening times: 16th, 17th, 18th March (11am - 5pm) and 23rd, 24th, 25th March (11am - 5pm)
The 2012 exhibition programme for the ‘no-format’ gallery will include a series of exhibitions of visual artworks under the collective title ‘On Sublimity and Synaesthesia’. These exhibitions will explore art created in response to experience at the sublime
limits of ordinary vision, and how the limits between the physical senses can be transcended by synaesthetic processes in the brain which enable non-visual data to contribute to the creation, experience and knowledge of visual artworks. Each exhibition in
this series will give one in-house artist the opportunity to exhibit a selection of his/her visual artworks, and to work in conjunction with the freelance writer Stephen Baycroft (author of a biography of the artist Ken Currie entitled The Mask of Being, 2001,
and currently completing a book on the relationships between the art of the Greek dramatist Aeschylus, the American poet T.S. Eliot and the Anglo-Irish painter Francis Bacon), to produce an artistic statement in which this artist places his/her work in the
context of Western art history and philosophical aesthetics.
Since the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato a distinction has been made between the pseudo-mystical ‘sublime’ use of an observer’s mind’s eye to utilize visual sensations of his/her physical eyes which pushed this observer’s enformation
processes of ordinary visual perception towards their upper and lower limits; and the mystical use of an observer’s mind’s eye to no longer use the outward-looking physical eyes, but instead to use this mind’s eye to look inwards to observe images of recollected
memories stored in the mental aspect of his/her soul. The paintings by Tina Mammoser in this exhibition belong to a pseudo-mystical tradition in modern painting which arose during the mid-19th Century from the desire of visual artists to paint the results
of using extreme visual sensations by their physical eyes to test the sublime limits of their ordinary visual perceptions
The artist's view of the Sublime
My artwork has generally moved towards the Sublime naturally – I've only become aware of the term through exposure to other artists' work that seemed to connect with my aspirations for my own paintings at different points in my career. Not having an academic
art background my discoveries of sublime in artwork happened naturally. One of my most important influences in terms of the abstraction in my work came from an exhibition at the Tate Modern of Barnett Newman's work. Ironically, Newman's work falls into the
category of the “mystical” Sublime that Stephen Baycroft has written about – a sense of sublimity from within, an inner eye rather than from an objective subject outside the artist. So it was Newman's paintings that first gave me the absolute experience that
something truly sublime could be experienced in abstract painting, rendering me speechless. But I still brought my own sensitivities to applying this experience. My paintings are still based on observation of something from within the visible landscape – I
call this objective abstraction, as opposed to non-objective (no external subject). These words coordinate to Stephen's use of the terms of pseudo-mystical and mystical. Actually discovering the academic meaning of “Sublime” came much later through the random
discover of a book about the Sublime in literature and art. The theories within then found a concrete example for me in the recent exhibition of John Martin's paintings at the Tate Britain. Martin's paintings impressed upon me the historic relationship of
the viewer (and artist) to a meaning of the sublime. Martin's Victorian audience would have been in awe of his terrorizing landscapes. In the 21st Century it takes far more to impress us, let alone create the sense of loss of control or overwhelming environment.
To me visual abstraction in painting seems a contemporary approach to creating a new sense of Sublime. Using a pared down reference to a real world experience and combining it with extremes of colour and light. Plus using representations of our physiological
reaction to extremes like light haloes, after-image colours, and limits of focus to emphasise what is unresolved in our view.
Tina Mammoser, February 2012