Throughout my life I have been a collector of memorable moments. If I decide I want to capture a certain moment, I stop in my tracks and tell myself to register the impression. I do not have an eidetic sense, so what I commit to memory is more like an impression, often an unstable reflection, a flickering image always intertwined with the accompanying emotion. All of this without any words. Words actually can murder a moment, as it happened to Faust, who died because he said, “Stay a while, you are so beautiful¨!” The moments I have chosen to remember have always included me in solitary space, often in a natural setting, usually communing with the surroundings. Like in Monet’s Impression Sunrise, the mind had to be fast and busy capturing the transient and ephemeral moments of impression. No matter if weak or transient, the moments left an indelibleimprint on my memory. They are like a well I can draw from when my inspiration runs dry or when I feel disconnected and inattentive.
These thoughts accompanied me while I have recently been contemplating the work of Peter Doig, a Scottish painter whose art hit me like a revelation not so long ago. I have come across an excerpt from an interview with him, in which he said:
“People often say that my paintings remind them of particular scenes from films or certain passages from books, but I think it’s a different thing altogether. There is something more primal about painting. In terms of my own paintings, there is something quite basic about them, which inevitably is to do with their materiality. They are totally non-linguistic. There is no textual support to what you are seeing. Often I am trying to create a ‘numbness’. I am trying to create something that is questionable, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to put into words … I often use heightened colours to create a sense of the experience, or mood or feeling of being there … I think the paintings always refer back to a reality that we all have experience of … I am using … natural phenomena and amplifying them through the materiality of paint and the activity of painting.”
While I am looking at his works, all my moments of wordless magic etched in my memory resurface and haunt me. Someone wrote that the world of his art is felt rather than understood. To me, his paintings are a true expression of Heidegger’s concept of dasein (being there), as the philosopher explained it in Being and Time:
“Body’, ‘soul’, and ‘spirit’ may designate phenomenal domains which can be detached as themes for definite investigations; within certain limits their ontological indefiniteness may not be important. When, however, we come to the question of man’s Being, this is not something we can simply compute by adding together those kinds of Being which body, soul, and spirit respectively possess–kinds of being whose nature has not as yet been determined. And even if we should attempt such an ontological procedure, some idea of the Being of the whole must be presupposed.”
Being is more primal to any concepts, words or ideas about what Being is.