I hadn’t seen the painting for about a year, but when Chason’s name came up, it immediately came to mind. I remembered it at first in the most general terms—its environmental size hosting a nocturnal scene animated by the suggestion of wind blowing through trees, scattering brilliantly colored sliver shapes across the canvas. But I struggled to fill in the blanks with the depth of detail and various strange parts that had proved so captivating the first and only time I saw it. I put my mental energies to the task of seeing into the darkness—my own and that of the painting itself. What emerged was an arrangement, centrally located in the composition, of what I took to be some kind of lighting equipment. I imagined these elements as parts (or pointing in the direction) of the actual lights necessary to produce the painting. In my mind’s eye they seemed poised to shed light not only on the artist’s process in making the work—literally, bringing it to light—but also on my own activity in wrangling the bits and pieces of the picture into coherency. In my effort to see it again—empathetically, perhaps telepathically—the self-conscious vitality of the painting proved to be contagious. The more I engaged in conjuring, the more I saw the painting as being about that very process itself.
the self-conscious vitality of the painting proved to be contagious
Jan Avgikos is a NYC based art critic and historian. She is a Contributing Editor for Artforum and has been published in magazines, museum catalogues, and anthologies of critical writing.