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Ambiguous precision

That article in Turps Banana (see previous posting) has prompted another poem. This one is inspired by other aspects of the article. Holden describes Root as ‘a painter who’s work, which although at times very precise, thrives on an ambiguity of subject matter’. I’ve taken this opposition between precision and ambiguity and spun it into a poem, using, as an anchor, the painting Interior With Stick (2010).

Interior with Stick, Phil Root, 2010

(click image to link to painting on artnet)


Ambiguous precision

Reason clings to cause and effect
but the sum of wherefores is unequal
to the end result. A painting
of a painted owl looking
longingly at a stick, indoor.
Every stroke is just so, adds
to the whole, precisely. The owl
lives — alongside the stick. The stick,
however, is unsupported. No reason.

Put the painting into words. De-
scribe all the artist’s oeuvre.
Here is the gap between paint
and bird. Nature and culture made
orthogonal, like floor and wall.
That stick stands, manifestly.

Yet, ambiguity gives us
reason to see. Come and behold.
We are creatures who conjure meaning
and meanings here are manifold.