September 7, 2015

Poetry and Art: Agnes Martin at the Tate

There's nothing that grips the mind more than good art - and like love, it does so in a way that goes beyond words. That's how my travelling partner and I felt after seeing the Agnes Martin show at the Tate Modern. Agnes Martin herself wrote about this beauty: "When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in my mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection." 

After seeing beauty, it takes a few days for the (bodily and spiritual) experience to settle down. It's also called "delayed reaction". This the artist Nick Fudge told us the day afterwards when picking us up at Hastings's train station (about the who/ what/ when/ where and why of Nick Fudge, I will be talking very soon). Writing poetry about art, this Matthew Rana remarked in Frieze, is not exactly a critical solution: "If anything, it opens more questions." But my travelling partner and I had to kill an hour and twenty minutes on the train from London to Hastings. The soothing cadence of the ride, the trickling sound of the rain and the bucolic view of sheep.... it might not inevitably lead to good poetry, but a nice pastime it surely was. 


Agnes Martin, Perfect Happiness, 1999


Agnes Martin

Is it the lack of variation
or is it that the variations
are so subtle,
obscured the riches
beyond them,
exposed only
in the way their creator
brought them about

I follow the lines 
you drew
looking for a failure
an interruption of some sort
a shaking of the hand,
I want you to fail
as much as I need you
to succeed

a steady hand
a shaky mind
and a disciplined eye
in a split spirit




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