Giotto by Stefano Zuffi

By Stefano Zuffi

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Picture making, he concludes, is an inquiry or a process of questioning. Every solution he proposes dissolves 7. Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1978), p. 105. Though Tansey does not engage his writings, Lacan's analysis of the intricate relationship among the imaginary, symbolic, and real is relevant for the issue of representation. What Lacan labels "the real" is never present as such but only "appears" by disappearing.

A metaphor is, of course, "a figure of speech in which a term is transferred from the object it ordinarily designates to an object it may designate only by implicit comparison or analogy" (American Heritage Dictionary). Accordingly, metaphorical language is figurative. Figures, as the etymology of "metaphor" suggests, are sites of transference. " If paintings are metaphors and metaphors are sites of transfer or exchange, then paintings might be understood as something like bridges. But what is the meaning of "bridge" in this context?

Creative activity has to work with the entropic propensity of time. One must, in other words, learn to figure while the paint is drying. Tansey's method of layering and use of time to produce figural gradations result in canvases that are richly textured rather than simply flat. Layering creates deep, even profound surfaces. When Tansey peels away the surface, he does not discover the thing itself but uncovers another surface. In and through this play of surfaces, forms and figures gradually emerge.

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