In a tribute to my late friend and mentor Dave Hickey, the title of this show comes from the eponymous song on The Strokes’ 2003 album Room on Fire. It echoes one of Dave’s favorite koans: “The branch from which the blossom hangs is neither long nor short.” He used these words of Krishnamurti as an epigraph for the 2002 essay in an issue of Daedalus magazine dedicated to beauty. Dave argued that all signs (he was speaking about what he called “American semiotics”) carry both designative meanings—these have to do with language and content, and embodied meanings manifested “as word, or color, or a musical note.” While the designative meaning of these paintings references the music transcribed for them, I prioritize the embodied meaning of the works: their color.
Elsewhere, using the same koan, Dave wrote: “The branch upon which the blossom hangs may be long or short, rough or smooth, strong or weak according to our expectations, but the redness of the blossom is irrevocable, and the word ‘red’ tells us next to nothing about it.” In his view, language fails full expression of color: “There are thousands of colors in the world and only a few hundred words to describe them […] Thus, when color signifies anything, it always signifies, as well, a respite from language and history a position from which we may contemplate absence and death in the paradise of the moment.” Like the title of Lawrence Weschler’s book about Robert Irwin, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, the paintings aim to engage one’s visual experience prior to the processes of thought and language. They are about “absence and death in the paradise of the moment.”
Las Vegas, December 2021.