Zen and the Art of Seeing

The painter renders information from the visual world encoded in colorful blobs of paint. This information is subjective and only partially based on facts. It’s a personal interpretation of reality. When you are conscious of this, you say that you are interpreting reality, but when we’re not conscious of it, we claim to see reality objectively.

The brain behind the eye translates objective reality into a subjective, personal experience based on a projection of the past.

The viewer decodes your paint stains and uses them to build his own subjective reality.

Now that we know that the painter’s interpretation of reality doesn’t make a seamless connection to the viewer’s, we can turn it into a game by making our paintings as empty, vague, and indistinct as possible. This way the viewer can give his own interpretation to it by filling this – meaningful – emptiness with his own imagination. You should, however, give him a handle, a minimum of recognizability to jumpstart the imagination.

This minimal rendition of the facts, this stenographic symbol, should always incorporate the most characteristic part of your subject. If you handle this competently, the result will be more expressive, more interesting than reality. A joy to creator and viewer alike.

This has been a brief introduction to this topic. I will clarify it later with additional text and illustrations.

Kees van Aalst

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