Marie Søndergaard Lolk
23 Oct – 21 Nov 2020
By art historian and writer Nanna Friis
Here is open. Above all, something very open is allowed to grow here for a moment, just long or determined enough for it to ripen and hang between the walls like gentle fruits. And so an accurate story can spread through the rooms and rather than answering it can ask: ‘what is (not) a picture’ or ‘what do eyes think they need to look at’ and the story can yearn for misunderstandings since they shed a crisp light on the necessary doubt of working. Next to each other or in layers, these unusual intersections between shaping and hesitation can sprout. Intersections between painting and tranquility. Silence makes people uneasy, it is the opposite of jobs and cities and money and reason and culture and society and notions of talent. But if the desire for non-language is also a meticulous resistance (because it is): there are paintings and a lack of language here.
Marie Søndergaard Lolk is a painter and yet consistent decisions to diverge from The Great Visibility rest in her surfaces – without demanding immense canvases or an abundance of paint to vibrate and catch attention. Because assertions shouldn’t need to yell in order to exist. But when they choose to speak in reduction’s tongue it still is confusing. If the painter’s paintings take an interest in other territories than those immediately able to satiate an eye, is she then trying to trick us? Are the paintings? Will whispering colours and transparency and material fragility deprive us of an accessible experience of Art? Will beauty evaporate? This fragility can puzzle, maybe even provoke us, when we of Art primarily expect variations of monumental. Something lasting, something heavy and a beauty to look at. Marie Søndergaard Lolk’s pictures are another sort of pictures, not unbeautiful, but frailer monuments of sensibility. They will probably not exist across several lifetimes and they aren’t meant to either. They are monuments destined to perish, welcoming the transitory as rain after a yellow summer, can’t they contain a beauty that will make something burst beyond the mere gaze?
These pictures don’t sound like anti-monumental dreams of self-annihilation or delicate reluctance, they rather buzz with curious discussions of how painting and sensitivity can look. How intuition doesn’t have to be the opposite of precise decision-making, and where painting can exist besides the coloured plentiful realms of visibility and weight to which it is usually drawn. These are other forms of pictures, a kind of fast, creamy youth also live in them, and they mumble. Such a lack of green that it just appears like a shadow on the cardboard, almost nothing but the assumption of green, because it resembles an imprint of that defiant neon streak. A much larger trace of mauve than the actual painted mauve length on the board – the colour’s insipid mood oozing down from a corner, but more than this the erasure, the rosy weakening like when dusks draw through the sky. White and pale and transparent, the spiral and vaguely grey waves, seeming closer to not being motives than to being it. When something is so slender and simultaneously so long that it looks more like a dive of silk than a surface. Marker, paper, the cardboard and the shreds and then matter folds itself around the eyesight, almost escapes it, and glides along the walls like water or dim sounds.
Is there more or less to sense when a picture prefers translucence to hyper visibility? This translucence isn’t feeble, it doesn’t share the weak-willed nature of invisibility. On the contrary: looking through these pictures is both seeing them and seeing something else. Rather than making dense completions in frames where gazes can be curbed by the plentiness of a surface, Marie Søndergaard Lolk paints a set piece to look from. Initially, the pictures exist like individual and blatant glimpses of something you probably can’t imagine. And then they compile in a mode of looking for the unimaginable, a kind of wide binocular towards maximum formlessness.
Can’t it be encouraging to consider the cultivation of eyes as the cultivation of soil? And these pictures as the fertilizer which, in all their aligned under-patterning, make the gaze grow. When there isn’t much to look at there is all the more we can’t see. Anything can appear in any conceivable way and it’s difficult to offer only this to the human perception when pictures normally promise something to look at. Long have we been ready for encounters with dissolved realities in any realm of art, easily we admire and recognize abstraction. But when abstraction is intensified and starts to pose awkward questions, when it may just be completely stoned, and when doubt is thoroughly loved and painted out as suggestions or as just plain lack, then abstractness becomes a possible shock! A possible shock of everything very thing and the tiny ghostly colours, of the materials’ seemingly relaxed attitude to destruction, and of an undramatic absence of preciousness as we know it. Perhaps a presumption of something arbitrary, the quick carelessness of her line? Or simply the shock of finding yourself, as a rarity, among purely pictorial existences without any other possibility than to take part in their angular narrative. Marie Søndergaard Lolk’s paintings attempt at non-speaking just outside of any language we know or can recall, but maybe they also shape a new alphabet. They’re gaudy and coherent enough to be components in a visual imitation of language.
What is something creased and pale green able to say next to disconnected stains of greyish-ness, a suddenly romantic ball of light showered in blue and the tiny yellow and black nearby as a touch of something laughing? Indeed it becomes sentences of other signals than words. An empathetic aesthetic with a slight ability to release sensitivity from logic while mildly underlining how non-language doesn’t necessarily have to shock. Rather, it can offer the heart of the eyes – or any potentially logic-rejecting organ – the opportunity to abandon reality’s constant demands to ‘understand’. Language infuses things with authority. It is language, never sensibility alone, that organises us and any environment.
Unless, for a moment, we allow pictures to serve as writing in the narrow refuge that art can be. Unless someone insists on speaking through the boundlessness that pictures are. To tell a story of possible silence and unrecognizability, but which, with the open transparency of mornings, allows for understanding on any level available when language can also be other and wilder matter than words. Letter-less but dense with signs. Looking into and out of Marie Søndergaard Lolk’s vague paintings is to crumple up some bright slices of reason, and for a while to let pictures rather than words set the world in motion.