chapter  14
8 Pages

The role of the medium

A further aspect of this problem of establishing a dialogue relation between two differences, as illustrated by the method of the free drawings, was to do with the extreme pliability of

the material, of chalk, charcoal, paint. I thought of this aspect of the matter when considering a painter’s definition of painting as being ‘the expression of certain relationships between the painter and the outside world’.* For I felt a need to change the word ‘expression’ of certain relationships into ‘experiencing’ certain relationships; this was because of the fact that in those drawings which had been at all satisfying there had been this experiencing of a dialogue relationship between thought and the bit of the external world represented by the marks made on the paper. Thus the phrase ‘expression of’ suggested too much that the feeling to be expressed was there beforehand, rather than an experience developing as one made the drawing. And this re-wording of the definition pointed to a fact that psycho-analysis and the content of the drawings had forced me to face: the fact that the relationship of oneself to the external world is basically and originally a relationship of one person to another, even though it does eventually become differentiated into relations to living beings and relations to things, inanimate nature. In other words, in the beginning one’s mother is, literally, the whole world. Of course the idea of the first relationship to the outside world being felt as a relationship to persons, or parts of persons, was one I had frequently met with in discussions of childhood and savage animism. But the possibility that the adult painter could be basically, even though unconsciously, concerned with an animistically conceived world, was something I had hardly dared let myself face.