The Presence of Absence
Liquid correctives fulfill their function by covering errors in spelling with white ink. Still, besides erasing a word which has been misused or which strays from the norm, the corrective function may have other meanings. It indicates that there is something in between what was erased and the new aspect; it is an indicator of a presence of something that isn’t anymore. In the Liquid paper display, by Marina Saleme, what matters is not the literal function of a correction, but one of renewal, the return to a stage prior to the objective time.
It has long been known that painting is free to dispense dogmas and paradigms which allow a judgment between what is right or wrong. Therefore, in essence, there is no error in painting, since there is no predefined structure. In the case of Marina Saleme, the process of elaboration is given by the construction of layers in which figures emerge, are covered and repainted. In this manner, the space deepens as the material of the paint is overlaid. Furthermore, inherent to her work is the duality of a constant renewal which is also an incessant search. It’s as if the paintings have always withheld a solution which has been now partially recovered. Also, the depth of the painting is composed in countermotion, by movement from the core to the foreground and vice-versa. Interestingly, in this process, contrarily to the mechanism of a computer screen, not all “imperfections” are erased. The painting therefore contains a relic which is present until even after it is finished. In fact, it is of the conflict between the becoming and the forthcoming that the painting is composed.
In spoken language, even if an orator corrects a phrase or a mispronounced term, the damage is done. There is no possibility of going back in time and correcting the speech. In painting, the process is analogous, but since the public doesn’t closely accompany its elaboration, what is seen is a number of layers which may seem, even from the most opaque to the most transparent, simultaneous, but which are in fact very select and depurated. In face of Marina Saleme’s painting, it is not possible to clearly ascertain the correct order of the overlay or of what came first or last. Her paintings presuppose months of work, but this is a period of time that shouldn’t be measured quantitatively. The painting, which appears as an assemblage of synchronic acts, would never be comprehended by the mere analysis of its evolutionary elaborative process. All the brushstrokes coincide silently in the present, even if submerged and covered by others. It is a present that carries part of the process of which it originated from and also, a small part of the future: the reception of the work.
In recent paintings by the artist there is continuity in the movements that form specific sort of lines. One brushstroke is entwined with the other and the next, and between them emerge figures filled by masses of colors that were either already in the core or which came later. Instead of straight geometric structures, the current painting is full of arabesques; between one point and another, there are deviations, curves and ornaments. The result is a grid composed of organic forms that structure the painting. In some paintings, as for example Fortune, circles appear to fall from heavier and deeper areas. A type of rain which is not merely filled up space because what lies in between the circles is just as relevant and still, not necessarily the core. The paintings of Marina Saleme seem to undo the rule that for each perceived figure there is a core. The intermediary space between the figures is the protagonist of many works.
The painting feeds off of what lies in between; what lies amongst the meaningful and the meaning, the erased figure and its return, and the explicit and the implicit. Marina Saleme makes visible that which may be in between the necessary, that which could not be any different and which is essential, and the contingent, the undetermined that is pure freedom.
Cauê Alves is a professor of architecture and urbanism at Escola da Cidade and an academic at FAAP. He is also curator of the Clube de Gravura do MAM-SP and a collaborator to a variety of publications about art.