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UN-THINKING VISION

JUDE RAE & GÜNTER UMBERG

“We assume so much about seeing and the visual world. Our lives are geared to a kind of shorthand of vision. It is the effectiveness of this visual shorthand that has given vision it’s primacy amongst our senses and has made the visible so closely associated with certainty. Seeing becomes – remains – believing despite growing evidence to the contrary. ”

– Jude Rae Sight Undone 2011

“My painting demonstrates nothing. Instead it gives space to aroused perception. We are much too inclined to order seeing as a thought process instead of appropriating it bodily. The way I make something gives me a close relationship to the world…Sometimes I think that I wouldn’t even be here without this experience.”      

– Günter Umberg Bilderhaus Schatternraum 2006

Image and abstraction continue to be regarded as polarities. Yet under the kind of inspection with which Jude Rae and Günter Umberg observe our shared world, the visual truth resides not in whether there is an image or an absence of such, but rather in the ‘re-making’ of vision through the making of a painting. Their painting offers a new material fact. Simultaneously we are bearing witness to this fact and to ourselves. Under such scrutiny, the ‘seen’ can reveal a new density and compression. The glassy meniscus that suggests a table top support for these subtle and considered arrangements in Jude Rae’s paintings might be made of D2O – “heavy water” holding and cooling the threatened combustibility of the high-pressure gas cylinders above. For Rae like Umberg, vision is a tangible experience, even a physical challenge. Making paintings allows both these artists to make sense not just of the visual world itself, but of the bodily logistics of sight.

In the past I have described Günter Umberg’s paintings using T.S.Elliott’s “still point in a turning world”. They appear at first to stop vision in its tracks, only to allow it to restart in 4WD giving sight a kind of slow traction that grips the edges of our visual experience.

To see the work of these two remarkable artists together collapses the false distinctions that are common place in painting. Experientially Jude Rae’s constructed worlds are philosophically abstract and Günter Umberg’s works allude so powerfully to the existential body. Size has no relation to scale and density. These works confound and fascinate in the best ways possible. Two painters apparently a world apart but the closest of neighbours.

– Andrew Jensen