Raphaëlle Romain

“An activity of blind sight” [1]

When Terencio González, a young Parisian artist with Argentinian origins, decides to go to Buenos Aires to study graphic design, the sunlight literally slits his retina, a similar experience of saturation that he will have later on, during his visit on the West American coast. While strolling around the Argentinian streets in this dazzling brightness, he is intrigued by colorful posters hastily offset-printed, carelessly glued on walls and of political connotation[2]. The paper is precarious, the definition basic. He starts collecting the posters’ backgrounds, colors dripping on their background, the lead letters retained on the press cylinders insidiously perspiring on the paper’s surface.

By sticking these backgrounds on large linen canvases first coated with white acrylic house paint, the artist, while studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris, creates vibrating and radiant variations. But the great colored areas are composed and contained. Traces of spray paint are added to the overall equilibrium. Just as the poster no longer holds any contents, this language, close to Martin Barré’s – reducing the artist’s gesture to its minimal form, loses its primary meaning. Terencio González’s work revisits history of art, between Color-Field and Action Painting, Nouveau Realism and Minimalism… Beyond all categorizations[3], Terencio González naturally avoids all possible debates with the same easiness and freedom that American or German artists can have.

He challenges the visible by removing the language. The colors do not contain any cultural bias anymore, but become the subject of pure contemplation, an invitation to colorful wanderings. While the places he visited emerge from his memory, the large format becomes a screen; a landscape that is both physical and mental where one can imagine oneself[4].

Despite the immediate feeling of iridescence, the work of Terencio González embodies a blinding process. While backgrounds still dazzle, the colored movements of spray paint act as stubborn stains of disturbing flares[5]. The white acrylic paint completes the final blinding glare, the same way Derrida suggests that the artist, when creating, lets the purity of the media he uses make him sightless[6].

Inspiration is inherent to blindness[7], which is part of a certain artist mythology to which González seems to connect. In front of his works, Terencio González chooses the approach of the artist guided by his own illumination, a reminiscence of his visual impressions.

His work unveils “the Unseen”[8]and allows experimenting “the ultimate form (…) blindness, bedazzlement, saturation”[9]. And if, according to Jean-Luc Marion[10], the “saturated phenomenon” is defined by adding more intuition onto intention, which implies a difference between the act of looking and the act of seeing[11], the viewer becomes a visionary spectator, and the blinded artist is then able to see.

Raphaëlle Romain
Art Critic and Historian

[1] Expression from Husserl, later used by Alain Bonfand in Histoire de l’artetphénoménologie. Recueil de textes 1984-2008.Paris : Vrin 2009. p. 101.

[2] Used for public manifestations or political meetings.

[3] As Rothko stated « The author must know that to classify is to embalm []The work must be the final arbiter ». Letter to the Editor in response to Elaine De Kooning, Art News, 1957, in Mark Rothko, Writings on Art, 1934-1969. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2006.

[4] Rothko said on this topic: « Since I am involved with the human element, I want to create a state of intimacy – an immediate transaction. Large pictures take you into them.. Scale is of tremendous importance to me – Human scale. », typescript of a conference at the Pratt Institute, November 1958, in Mark Rothko, Op. Cit. p. 200.

[5] Which can also refer to Gérard de Nerval’s poem: « Whoever has looked a long time at the sun/ Beholds in the welkin, where spot there is none/ A disk livid and strange, persistently float ».Gérard de Nerval, « Le Point noir », in Les Chimères.

[6] Jacques Derrida. Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-portrait and Other Ruins. Paris : Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1990. p. 119.

[7] From Homer’s blindness, Democritus’, or Victor Hugo’s Blind Poet: « the blind man sees in darkness a world of light. When the eye of the body goes out, the eye of the mind is lit», Les Contemplations.

[8] Phenomenological concept imagined by Jean-Luc Marion : « The unseen that the painter will look for thus remains, up to the point of its final appearance, unforeseen – unseen, thus unforeseen. The unseen, or the unforeseen par excellence. Like death, which (in principle) is not here so long as I am here, the unseen remains unapparent as long as it is, and disappears the moment that it appears as visible. The unseen appears only in order to disappear as such. ». Jean-Luc Marion, The Crossing of the Visible, Standford University Press, 2004.

[9] Alain Bonfand. Op. Cit. p. 10.

[10] In Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Givenness, Standford University Press, 2002.

[11] To look as the relation to the common phenomenon; to see as the relation to the saturated phenomenon.