August 18, 2004

Cezanne unlocking sensation, painting nature

Follow-up to On art and the art of war – Bacon and Cezanne from Transversality - Robert O'Toole


Cezanne, it is said, is the painter who puts vital rhythm into the visual sensation. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, p. 43

This vital rhythm is what Deleuze later calls the diagram of the painter. It is:

…the operative set of asignifying and nonrepresentative lines and zones, line-strokes and color patches. ibid, p.101

They are applications of paint and the hand of the artist that rhythmically reappear. Diagrams are used to unlock sensations, to release them from their immediate take-up in discursive and representational diversions, to bring us to the sensation itself, in its plurality and complexity…

…there are not sensations of different orders, but different orders of one and the same sensation… ibid p.37

…but for no reason other than its own actuality. This complexity, singularity and actuality turned Cezanne towards nature:

Every sensation, and every Figure, is already an "accumulated" or "coagulated" sensation, as in a limestone figure. ibid p.37

Cezanne sought the event or irruption of the sensation as we experience in nature:

This is what one must achieve. If I reach too high or too low, everything is a mess. There must not be a single loose strand, a single gap through which the tension, the light, the truth can escape. I have all the parts of my canvas under control simultaneously. If things are tending to diverge, I use my instincts and beliefs to bring them back together again… Everything that we see disperses, fades away. Nature is always the same, even though its visible manifestations eventually cease to exist. Our art must shock nature into permanence, together with all the components and manifestations of change. Art must make nature eternal in our imagination. What lies behind nature? Nothing perhaps. Perhaps everything. Everything, you understand. So I close the errant hand. I take the tones of colour I see to my right and my left, here, there, everywhere, and I fix these gradations, I bring them together… They form lines, and become objects, rocks, trees, without my thinking about it. They acquire volume, they have an effect. When these masses and weights on my canvas correspond to the planes and spots which I see in my mind and which we see with our eyes, then my canvas closes its fingers. It does not waver. It does not reach too high or too low. It is true, it is full… cited in Cezanne by Ulrike Becks-Malorny, Taschen 2001

Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire

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