Anatomy of an island with closed eyes
Byung-Chul Han sustains that knowledge is a patient expedition towards silence. A negative path, against the grain of our always affirmative and hurried civilization. A path travelled groping in the dark, with no prefabricated destination. A road taken by thinkers, hermits and creators since the dawn of time. Some have ventured down, free-falling through the elliptic circles of hell. Some have been more inclined to ascend, seeking luminous rewards at the summit. Others prefer horizontal movement, through the mists and dangers of the jungle. And some have opted for a vertical descent, like a miner, hoping to find aqueous veins in the depths of the continent.
A year ago, Jordi Fulla decided to set out on a voyage of this nature. An initiatory, spiritual diver’s plunge. A voyage in search of unknown forms that illuminate the spirit, in the heart of darkness. He who writes these lines accompanied the artist on his trip, as a loyal travelling companion. For twelve months, we exchanged letters, writings, aphorisms, images, films and drawings; an irregular, intuitive epistolary where we followed every lead in his artistic corpus: his obsessions and desires, his deepest painterly, philosophical, and literary concerns... Kaleidoscopic material, that has served as undergrowth for the painter, in his preparation for a risky, profound and ambitious project.
To begin with, there was the Orient. We were united by the need to take on an artistic project that sought to resolve the intersection between East and West. Jordi Fulla’s trip to Japan in November 2016 was the start of this expedition. It was his second trip to the island of the rising sun, ten years after his first. Jordi Fulla is an artist with a Western shell, who is fascinated by the Oriental gaze. His Western eye drives him, as an artist, to calculate, trace, emulate, measure, reproduce, chart, fill and alter. His oriental eye, on the other hand, drives him to empty out, suggest, idle and blend with a nature that has always fascinated him from a distance, through a lens. The middle point between two cultural latitudes often finds Jordi Fulla in pursuit of so-called floating worlds: indeterminate locations, without time or space, that freeze a physical instant - a natural accident, a curiosity of nature - on an indefinite stage. It’s what he himself has described as the fifth season of painting, a dimension hors du temps that draws both from the Japanese Zen artistic tradition - Ukiyo-e prints, the gardens of Kyoto, the photographs of Hiroshi Sugimoto - and the serenity of a branch of Western art: from Vermeer to Magritte, Klein to Anish Kapoor.
Afterwards came the islands. A strange fascination has driven the artist, on different occasions, to want to capture these floating entities: cold islands (icebergs) and warm ones (the volcanic islands of Japan); human islands (dry-stone huts) or oceanic islands (those charted in Islands). On this trip, however, we’ve endeavoured to approach islands of the spirit. Islands as a source of knowledge and mystery, that populate the imaginations of both the West - from Thomas Moore’s Utopia to Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead - and the East, from Hokusai’s engravings to the films of Kaneto Shindo. The island as a lure or snare to undertake our voyage, and allow whatever they dictate to flow. Ambiguous bodies that manage to trap a sensation at the peak of natural spontaneity. This point of tension between artifice and nature, darkness and light, reality and abstraction, is one of the constants in the work of Jordi Fulla which he has sought, in this project, to expand into its maximum expression.
And, finally, night. All believers, all mystics seeking the infallible know, like the artist, that to reach illumination you need to follow a steep path, full of dangers and shadows. They know that a path without darkness is not to be trusted. Jordi Fulla has undertaken this voyage in a (not always voluntary) state of blindness. An arduous path, groping in the darkness to which his eyes have adjusted in order to encounter the unfathomable forms that populate any spiritual descent: unknown, ambiguous, strange, extraordinary forms that are, as a result, terrifying, like the beauty Rilke described in the contemplation of the angel, or T. S. Elliot in his description of the wasteland of an England devastated by the First World War. The path to beauty is not the pleasant stroll that our technocratic world attempts to sell us. Profound beauty always has a tragic underbelly that calls for a bravery to confront and transmit it. This noble tragedy in the form of islands, totems, volcanoes, meteorites, Buddhas or interior seas is what Jordi Fulla, with all his impulses and dedicated, has endeavoured to capture with closed eyes.
Anatomy of an island with closed eyes
Museum of Montserrat
From April 8 to September 11, 2017
Curator: Albert Mercadé