Reflections on REALosaka

When I think about Wim’s photo REALosaka I first of all think about space. The space that things that are real occupy, how they stretch out, and offer themselves to our senses by means of color, smell, sound, and tactile experiences. The painting is material, and occupies space; it is space, it is a space where thoughts can dwell and dreams are fed. The richness of color is what first meets the eye, and the fact that there are letters; a word, furthermore, that this word embeds something that is surprising, even disturbing to the senses but also comforting if it is given time. A city. Osaka. It is something remote, far away from where I am, close to the North Pole. It is a city that seems foreign, exotic, yet very familiar with its tall buildings, its city lights, and construction sites. The letters, the city-in-the-word, and the abstract fields between them divide the space of the painting into several spaces that shift positions – background and foreground, figure and ground. What is figure and what is ground? The city, or the word, or the abstract forms? It is a question that cannot be answered, because it depends on the position you are in when you look: close or distant. This interchangeability creates a fruitful tension and an excitement that does not leave you and thus, the painting becomes a space within the onlooker, within me, and stays there.

Space is also in the painting, as a perspective. This gigantic city, a world metropolis that reaches out forever it seems, and still, there is a heaven above, and this tiny star, that is more eternal than the city below. The city seems, in its pieces, because it is pieces, broken by the abstract spaces, where the mind has to imagine that the city exists also beneath the abstracts (and vice versa!), this city seems like something from the outer space, a futuristic place, something from or for the future. It could be in spatial orbit, for all I know, had it not been for its contemporary name that makes it real. So it’s here, connected to a real city, but captured at a specific moment, forever in construction, forever with the same star above, a moment in time. Imagined future and real contemporaneousness – or imagined contemporaneousness and real future. Space is playing with time and space and time is playing with what is real and senses play with thoughts. Thus, the painting is not only something one looks at – it is a living, absorbing, evoking, present entity which simultaneously represents an opening to another world.

But future is not only futuristic architecture and design. World cities may not be the future. They are also tons of garbage, filth, pollution. That is the pessimistic vision that very well may be or become real: a city that destroys itself. But cities are also innovation, constructions, technology, and thus there is optimism that also may be real: a city that re-invents itself by the flow of time. Both cannot be true at the same time. But there might be a dynamic pulse between the two, the city pulse, where the abstract fields of the painting, with their optimistic pastel colors, formed like computational chips so appropriate for the chosen city, may represent a communicative bridge between the past, the present, and the future.

Author: Vigdis Stokker Jensen, PhD-fellow/Lecturer, University of Bergen, Norway