Mimesis of the In/Sensible


When art critic Christopher Knight said “The most challenging art always makes demands on our cozy assumptions,” he was commenting on The Central Garden at The Getty Center Los Angeles, designed by artist Robert Irwin. Knight made his point well – the definition of art, or actually Art (capital ‘A’), is so broad that it may (it must?) include Muhlenbergia rigens, Colocasia esculenta, and Dalechampia dioscoreifolia.

The Central Garden at the Getty further opens up our definition of art when artist Irwin describes his Getty commission as “a sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art.” Irwin was fully aware that in this work he was attempting to breach existing boundaries of ‘Art.’ And he labored through anyway, facing critics and commissioners with equal disinterest while tending to his primary task – the work of the artist. The result speaks for itself. The Getty’s Central Garden succeeds in its mimesis of the sensible world, providing its audience with passive invitation into the insensible realities that mark art’s finish.

When the angels of the Lord come to visit Abraham to tell him of Sarah’s motherhood, Abraham is sitting in the opening of his tent. As the angels tell the old man that his elderly wife will bear a son, the Genesis story tells us that she too is sitting in this same opening of the tent, this same point of passage between the personal and the communal. I propose that this metaphoric place of entrance is shared by artists, architects, theologians and priests – all are united in that through their work they create entrance, they attempt to breach existing definitions and boundaries. They aspire to build openings within openings.

On View : various pieces from ‘Full of Grace’, the current exhibition at ECVA. Seen above, Here I Am, by Ferris Cook. Gold leaf and acrylic on wood. “But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.”

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