The annoying ten per cent that makes no sense

Eve – Barnett Newman

“The vast expanse of unmodulated red paint in this work is both absorbing and disorienting.
It is interrupted by a single, narrow band of purple running the length of the right-hand edge.
This ‘zip’ generates a tension throughout the canvas between presence and blankness, solidity and fragility.
Its verticality also echoes the position of the viewer, helping to fulfil Newman’s concern that ‘the onlooker in front of my painting knows that he’s there’. “

from the painting notes
Last Friday I had a day off so I went to the Tate Modern.
This painting struck me. To be honest it is impossible not to look at it, because it’s massive and bright red!
For the most part I am rational and sensible, keeping most aspects of my life under control (in fact scarily I was in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, chatting to a guy who I see about once every six months who out of the blue turned and said to me: “This isn’t a bad thing, but you strike me as the kind of person who never really loses control.” I was stunned that I was so transparent!).
However, there is a small part of me that is wild, unruly and extremely emotional.
If you like this is the purple ‘zip’ of the painting, that is so disconcerting to look at and distracts from the mass of red that takes up the most space.

It is the part of me that is fragile against the solid reliability of the rest of me.

It doesn’t seem to matter that for the most part I am pragmatic because the small part of me that isn’t disrupts, fractures and leans on my decision making process to get its own way.

I suppose, this means, in essence, I’m a girl, a fact that I am slowly coming to terms with.

And I suppose in essence, that is why this painting is called Eve and not Adam.


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