Artist R. E. Colvin created a work exploring "Light and Darkness" through Ecclesiastes 7:23.
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23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
R. E. Colvin
I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, “I am determined to be wise.” But it didn’t really work. (Ecclesiastes 7:23 NLT)
Ecclesiastes has always been my favorite book in the Bible. I was in art school when I first read it, and maybe it is what lead me to study philosophy later. In rereading it, this verse struck me as profoundly funny; because it’s true.
The painting I have made, although similar to my current work, tries to get at this existential grasping more literally. Three shapes, essentially, “work” and “don’t work.” The figural white center – seemingly bright – is part of a single shape that inhabits the top and bottom of the composition too. The dark shapes on either side then vacillate between presences (as parallel vertical planes extending out into space) and absences (as windows into an etherial blackness). This effect then shifts the center element forward and backward. Everything is unstable.
In photographing my abstract work, I choose to include the wall surrounding the piece rather than cropping down to the image. This preserves the physicality of the work – it is a painted object – which is important to its experience. The painting has an existential presence like us.
R. E. Colvin is an artist and arts writer based in New York City.