“Art: The Dreaming Subjectivity” by Theodoros Georgiou
Art, according to Hegel, is “subjectivity’s (the intellect’s) tangible appearance.” That is, given the tangible aspect of things, it is the aesthetic condition that determines the conventions by which subjectivity is constructed This central truth underlies the appearance
and evolution of modern art. Indeed, modern art, compared to classical and traditional art forms, is founded on subjectivity and promotes self-reflection (Selbstreflexion) as a component aim. Subjectivity’s prominence in modern art’s formative condition means the creation of a cerebral (artistic) auto-activity which, on one hand, establishes the ensemble as object, and, on the other, develops the relationship of self-consciousness; that is, the subject’s relation to itself Modern artistic subjectivity consists of the fact that the two acts - the establishment of the object and self-consciousness - interweave in different ways each time without obeying any program or concerted plan, as is the case with scientific subjectivity. Modern art as tangible subjectivity constitutes another way of composing things.
Within the context of modern art, the target of artistic probings and pursuits is the means by which to correlate and plan the subjective acts of establishment-of-object and self-consciousness. Philip Tsiaras’ work is such an artistic exploration; it has as its aim the construction of a phenomenological place where a highly developed artistic subjectivity on one side joins an irrational, imaginary and oneiric object on the other. At first glance, we seem to be before a painting which constructs an unbridgeable chasm between the mind and the ontological condition (of things). The question may be posed as follows: how can the images of dreams and imagination, the forms of phenomenological perception or the ideas of irrational contemplation be reconciled with the all-powerful artistic subject which functions as a deputy in the visual arts dispute?
Tsiaras’ work is a response to this question. For this reason, it refers to artistic pursuit within the context of modern art. Tsiaras does not undermine subjectivity in order to proceed towards a phenomenological art, nor does he turn against modern art in order to arrive at psychological descriptions of the state of things, rather, he paints in order to achieve the interrelation of two opposing conditions: the rational subject and the oneiric object. With his painting, Tsiaras redefines the basic organizing principle of modern art. This principle, according to Adorno, is none other than the “denial of composition”: modern art must turn against the principle of aesthetic composition to articulate aesthetic truth. For Tsiaras’ painting, the intra- aesthetic attack against modern art- as- form consists in visually locating a phenomenological place where a dreaming subject and a thinking object reside.
Still, it must be emphasized that Tsiaras’ visual pursuits of relationships between rational subject and oneiric object are waged with the redefinition of aesthetic truth as a primary target.
In his work, the paintings are not rational expressions of the aesthetic subject, nor visual reproductions of irrational states. They are formalized manifestations of the phenomenological place in which the dreaming subject and the thinking object intermesh. Tsiaras’ paradoxical and bizarre visual place is the dialectical place of aesthetic truth.
As aesthetic truth, Tsiaras’ painting is founded on the oneiric re-composing of the subject and the contemplative restructuring of things. In his work, truth is defined as a dialectical interrelation of the dreaming subject and the thinking object. The peculiar encounter of subject and object constitutes a radical premise for redefining 1) the aesthetic (synthetic) principle of modern art, and 2) the aesthetic truth as a phenomenological place where the subject is not entirely subject and the object is not entirely object.
In Tsiaras’ work, the redefinition of modern art’s aesthetic composition is also postulated as an asymmetric bridge between aesthetic truth and depicted truth (truth in the sense of corresponding to reality). The real world is the world of painting and art; in contrast, the realistic world is hoax and illusion. If the phenomenological place of Tsiaras’ painting is elevated to criterion of truth, then truth and falsehood are redefined, not as the ontological perception of truth, but as the aesthetic perception of truth. ”Art, in a paradoxical way,” writes Adorno, “must confirm what is irreconcilable and thus aim towards its reconciliation”. Tsiaras” painting is a radical attempt to redefine the conditions by which aesthetic truth is produced while, simultaneously, fixing the boundaries of intra- aesthetic prerequisites for the construction of an aesthetic dreaming subjectivity.
The distance between the mind and the dream coincide with the distance between the principle of modern art and the attempt to redefine its synthetic principle. Art as “subjectivity’s tangible appearance” and art as phenomenological meeting place of the dreaming subject and thinking subject make up the two sides of the same coin: modern art. As art of subjectivity and, simultaneously, as phenomenological art, Tsiaras’ painting has its origins in the attempts to revise the synthetic principle of modern art, and establishes a perceptual definition of another vision of the world.