Things that are not There

Artwork details: gouache, and some coloured pencil, 13 x 20 inches (33 x 51 cm), 2004.

I think actually what I liked first about this painting when I started it was the title - I thought of 'Things that are not there' - as meaning literally things that are "not-there" that is to say they are the things that don't exist - rather than things that are not "there" which would be different as it implies that the "things" are somewhere, but "elsewhere". I'm not sure if the difference is simple to explain - it was the sheer paradox of defining something whose single definition was that it didn't exist - I mean logically this does not make any sense - many things don't exist and to define something as being the thing that doesn't exist is ludicrous - but at the same time has a kind of poetry to it.

Things that are not There Things that are not There

So the title was strangely ambiguous - and reflects the scene in the painting. Clearly the things depicted in the puddles and reflections are not there - they simply aren't in the actual painting, and yet they are there in the reflection. Amongst all this ambiguity I've left it up to the viewer whether they are seeing the imagination of the little girl, or whether indeed the things she is seeing really do exist in some way. There also was a deliberate mis-match in the scene in that her 'real' surroundings are highly prosaic - she seems to be walking along a featureless path through a very dull park with a background of crowded box-like houses and factories or offices behind her, which she is walking away from, and yet she's dressed in a rather pretty and old-fashioned little girl's party dress, as if she's looking for or imagining a world that will suit her better, or has spent so long dreaming about getting away that the other world has come to meet her.

In the end it is up to the viewer to make some sort of sense of it, or not, as the case may be - I've sort of painted a visual riddle - possibly like one of those cubes by Escher that can't exist but can still be drawn...

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