PONDERING GENESIS

 

Being is what requires creation of us for us to have the experience.
Merleau-Ponty

 

A culture is spawned the moment it is vigorous enough to proffer the discourse of genesis; that is to say, when it becomes capable of narrating its own origin.Our (western) culture is spawned the moment it is stated by the primordial word of Creation contained in the opening of the Book of Genesis: In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 

 

God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. (...)Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear.” And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared God called the dry land “the earth,” and the basin of the water he called “the sea.” God saw how good it was. 

 

With the series Oceanos [Oceans], Carlos Eduardo Uchôa leads us towards the primordial enigma, in this anachronistic inauguration of time when darkness covered the abyss, a mighty wind swept over the waters, and there was light that God separated from the darkness. Oceanos gives us a glimpse of the genesis of light emerging from the dark abyss.  At the same time that it presents us the genesis of light, it instates the genesis of colors and forms, the constituents of painting.
Here we are before a metaphysical oeuvre, one in which the gaze ponders the sheer essence of light before the distinction of the four elements takes place–before there is water, land, air and fire, or before God gathered the waters to form the seas and separated them from the land or the continent, before he made the dome of the sky lighted with luminaries, before there was the waters of the sea with living creatures, before there were the seed-bearing and green plants, before there was hot air and cold air, and even before God made man and woman. Oceanos reaches out for the instant of spawning Nature, prior to the presence of Man and to the elements being set apart from one another, prior even to the creation of the World. As a being of indivisibility, light continually undergoes differentiation in and of itself; it brings out visibility and the pledge of the visible that comes to being at the core of the non-visible. As an indivisible differentiator, light multiplies all that it brings into being, and this is why in the Oceanos canvases by Carlos Uchôa each brushstroke brings into being yet another brushstroke, which then originates another, indefinitely, like the wind sweeping over the waters.
Exactly for this reason, Oceanos ponders the essence of painting as an inaugural that draws from the observer’s gaze and reason an even earlier memory–the memory of Nature being created before us and in us. Yet, only the painter’s hands and eyes have the extraordinary power to make us see and feel. Indeed, Uchôa’s paintbrush, his extreme frugality in the use of paint, and the indetermination of his forms suck us into the canvas as if, in a vortex, we could become one and the same with the painting before coming to ourselves. Before his paintings we are yanked from our placid individuality by a game involving the torment and the serenity of light in search of itself and that, in this quest, draws us to its inside. However, this inside is but sheer exteriority, for light only comes into being when it assumes its otherness. 


We are therefore standing in front of an experiment in painting, and let us note that, as philosopher Merleau-Ponty once stated, what we experience is within ourselves and outside ourselves, thence the need for the definition of the being of the Spirit, which only the painter’s Body can offer us. As endless genesis, light–i.e., visibility–also requires the creative work of a painter, which brings the visible into being. And the painter, in turn, is able to respond to its appeal, because his body, like ours, is made of the same inscrutable pulpy matter as light.  We are truly incarnated spirits.


This experiment in painting by Carlos Uchôa is effectively creation, because between reality presented as a brute event and the secret essence that props it in the inside there is a creative moment in which the Being is coming to itself. For the visible being to attain visibility, it requests the creative work of the painter who gropes around an intention to express something. Yet, he has no model for this intention capable of ensuring his access to whatever he is seeking. Ultimately, the painting action is what opens a roadway access to the contact that might allow him as well as ourselves to experience the genesis of the Being. 

 

Oceano 1
Emerging from the deepest darkness through creases and distressed spasms, this is where the epiphany of light comes into being as creative force: at this point nothing has come to being yet; therefore, all is pledged in the intensity of a potential transparency and opaqueness in which each form and each color hue are lost in one another, endlessly, in their respective quests for themselves.
We do not see this genesis, but we can hear its coming into existence in the distance, and yet so close to us.
As we stand before the canvas that brings to view the painful birthing of a world, this painting seemingly reaches out to teach us the transcendent power of genesis. The experience of birthing pain.

 

Oceano 2
Now it is the canvas that faces us, but the might of its vertical lines and the play of colors, at once firm and oscillating, draw us straight into the picture. Each diminutive brushstroke, each small amount of light and color drags us to a virtual point that is nowhere to be found. Rather than attracting our gaze only, its appeal arrests our entire body. The painting seizes us; there is no possible escape. It drags us inside in such a way that we tread its path, except in the opposite direction: our immersion is in response to its emergence, and our yielding bounces back its offering.
The experience of the abyss.

 

Oceano 3
Transparency: inside and outside are reconciled in a crystal depth. In a firm, energetic and sweet manner, the canvas merrily vibrates as our equally pacified gaze wanders about Uchôa’s serene and sinuous brushwork. Here, struggle and distress yield to encounter.


Now the artist’s crisscrossing, generous brushstrokes render vertical and horizontal lines– genesis of space– as they converge on the merely suggested depth of the crystalline hub. Each line, each color and its hues– genesis of form–engage in their own harmonious dissolution in the bosom of a welcoming totality, as each portion of the canvas yearns for others at the same time that it yields to others. Here, beginning and end become one at the same time that differentiation is stated as immanent totality.
The experience of infinity.


Marilena Chaui