The Drawers - Heidi Thompson Commentary written by Julie Oakes
Beauty & Obsession
There is a move from sentience to cognizance that depends on the breadth of the imagination. Heidi Thompson's color field paintings on paper provide springboards to launch flights of fancy that gel into an understanding of the absolute physicality of the particular art object. It seems a weighty description of the link between the perception of one of these pieces and the knowledge that can be gleaned from them, but this is how they work.
The immediate impression is a sensate response - to the glory of the color, the texture, and the edges of the paper raggedly containing the color field to the sensation of viewing the art piece. The contemplation of the sensation brings past associations into play the patinas of old Tuscan walls, astronomical photographs, mineral deposits, the dried up bottom of an evaporated fountain, mold, lichens, a rusty, barnacled prow of a recently retrieved shipwreck - wherever the individual mind has lodged a similar field of color and texture. Then, there is the tangential potential derived from the immediate visual and the associations that they create; new visions like the figures and worlds that we imagine in the clouds, a bonfire or a peeling patch of debris. The response is individual and Heidi Thompson has granted the room to move in a number of associative directions. The color field becomes a launching pad for the particular experiences, embedded in the viewer's consciousness, to spring into being.
Using the piece as an object for meditation and paring the sensation down to the energy that is flowing into the eyes and being then transmitted to the brain, brings about a distinctly human frame of mind. Because there is no subject other than the materials that make up the phenomenal object that is the piece of art, there is room to enter into a symbiotic relationship with the artwork that is just about as pure as it can get. This pure seeing, because of the human cognizance, causes an emotion - a thrill, perhaps, at the sheer beauty, or maybe dread at the subliminal mystery inherent in being or it could be a pleasurable shock at the glory of perceiving such a vision. This is the strength and appeal of pure abstraction.
Pure abstraction is a physical presence that often catches our attention (the patina, wall or rust, for instance) and yet it doesn't fade into disinterest over time. And so it is with a Heidi Thompson painting. The wonder continues and the piece pulses a new version of the vision with each encounter.
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