Memory 1: I lay on the ground and look up into a steel-blue sky. Clouds forming right above me. Hypnotized. The exact location is Montara Beach in California, situated in the coastal region, eight miles north of Half Moon Bay on State Route 1.
Memory 2: I sit on an elevated terrace, overlooking a garden bordered by immense trees. A village in the Prignitz, where the river Havel flows into the river Elbe, 2 hours east of Berlin. The land is flat, and I'm at eye level with the lower third of immense trees, touching the sky. In the afternoon, as the sun moves west, the branches of a magnificent pine tree turn dark and become a silhouette.
Both visual experiences are a conscious awareness of the landscape. Even though they originate from different physical phenomena – one, a change in air movement and temperature, the other a change in light hitting a large object and playing with colors in the sky – both bring to mind Patrick Gabler's large ink drawings. But how can that be? The ink he uses is solid black, the brushstrokes are not washed out to suggest anything fading, like clouds, fog, or light. Each brushstroke is made in one gesture, one moment and never corrected. The edges of the paper define the space, and often, an imaginary circle contains these gestures.
Investigation: How can memories of ink drawings pop up in one's mind when experiencing something so transient and transparent, such as clouds forming or colors changing with light, altering from one second to the next? Is this an example, of how the brain processes and interprets visual art and impacts our perception?
Neuroaesthetics, a branch within cognitive neuroscience, delves into the biological underpinnings of our aesthetic responses to art, and has proven that experiencing beauty in visual artworks results in affective responses, including feelings of wonder, elevation, and awe.
I do believe that experiencing art and nature can leave a similar neurological imprint, and depending on the individual, these experiences may converge in certain moments. I'm reminded of an experience in nature when looking at art, I'm reminded of art, perceiving nature.
I simply can't associate these ink formations with a sky touched by mountain peaks. The sky has to be a certain hue. It's a deep light blue with a yellowish tint towards earth, as it can be witnessed in the fall in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun sets early and the sunrays have a different angle. This light, in combination with tree tops in the lower parts of the periphery, makes me see Patrick's circular, stroke-containing forms. But I don't see them in dark black; I see them in a glowing white, like light. It's as if I can see the wind or clouds forming.
I feel part of a landscape and psychically attached to the land, a perception and a memory of art combined, embedded in a natural environment. I find value and purpose in the land that exists around me.
Does it require a flat landscape for the thought to emerge, or a horizon of an ocean, a vast body of water?
On another note, Patrick's ink drawings also provoke the thought of matter in space, energy made visible, swirls of something thickening and dissolving, currents coalescing and dissipating, constant changes in momentum and counter-changes. I imagine looking at the paper from the side. A millimeter-thick disk appears, with noticeable movement. When the disc slightly tilts and is angled, the density of movement changes. It becomes a mysterious view into physics, an entity of atoms moving at different densities and directions, depending on the angle, view, and position.
What wonderful things art can do.