Violaine Anger : "White, space, interval? Exploration at the heart of speech"

The first ways of writing the song have opposed a line of alphabetical, phonological signs (because of the Latin language used) and a line of features having an obvious iconological dimension, which is called "neumes". Between these two lines relies a space that cannot really be called "white" since it would be an anachronistic term borrowed from the printing press; it is neither a space, nor even a spatium, nor an interval, and certainly not an intervallum: in any case, the parchment is left bare. It is a matter of visualizing the word: the alphabetical line can be read aloud, but when one sings, it is impossible to separate the elements other than by an intellectual operation passing, precisely, by writing. This neumatic writing is therefore an analysis of speech which presupposes a hollow in his heart. Two ways of writing followed historically this first step : one of them, called "dasian" notation, introduces horizontal lines but removes this hollow; the next introduces lines of height inside this hollow, this void, but traces them at the dry point on the parchment. The paper will examine the nature of this void left in «white» by the colour of the medium and the imaginary revealed by its various evolutions.

Eduard Cairol : "Deep inmerged into the white: Joan Miro and the poetics of empty. A transdisciplinary perspective"

Along the last period of his production, the catalan painter Joan Miro is deep immerged into the white: two of the most famous and ambitious works of those years, the triptychs titled L’esperança del condemnat a mort (1974) and, above all, the very radical Pintura per a la cel·la d’un solitari (1968), both present big white and completely empty surfaces. Actually, the works of Miró where white and empty are the main themes (like a new triptych, Bleu, dated in 1968), became more and more frequent after the artist’s first journey into Japan in 1966, which was a true revelation to him. Thus, from full to empty, one could say that the metamorphosis of Miró was the reaction to the doctrines of the Eastern Masters, for instance Nagarjuna (The Foundations of the Middle Way) or Lie Zi (The Book of the Perfect Empty)… But in fact, one can already find a big white (or almost empty) panel in Miro’s painting of the twenties, the very same years he created La masia or Carnaval d’Arlequí, now under the influence of Surrealism. At the point that the relationship between oneiric life and white (or empty) seem to be exposed like a thesis in the very mysterious canvas titled Photo. Ceci est la couleur de mes rêves (1924). Furthermore, one can also find a state of mind which is called Empty or with no images Sleep in the Hinduist doctrine of Vedanta! So, in conclusion, several paths contribute to suggest a rich Hermeneutics of White in the work of Miró.

Hélène Campaignolle-Catel : "Contours and hollows of a concept: blank in Anne-Marie Christin's work"

Conceptual evanescence, linguistic lability, cultural obstacle, blankness  as a notion is neither easy to define nor to circumscribe. Our contribution will attempt to identify the way in which Anne-Marie Christin chose to give shape to the blank in her critical work: what words express this notion ? What texts question it ? From what corpus and using what method? And what place does this concept occupy in the overall theory supported by the researcher? We will try to explore these few questions by focusing in particular on the work Poétique du blanc, published in 2000.

Dominique A. Casimiro : "Between something and already almost nothing: the spaces of white in Mira Schendel"

The artist Mira Schendel (1919-1988) is from the unclassifiable family. Before arriving in Brazil in 1949 at the age of 30, she drank in multiple alluvium, following an education first Jewish in Switzerland then Catholic in Italy ‒ then becoming infatuated later Asian philosophies ‒, and hes European wandering to escape fascist barbarism. This European soil and these successive identities explain the complexity of this plethora of work, conceptual and "artisanal", too contradictory to join a movement. However, by borrowing the spaces occupied by white throughout this artistic trajectory, Mira Schendel's asthetic immediately becomes clearer: thus, from a method consisting in questioning the materiality of white and its variations (acrylic, cotton, rice paper, grainy texture, tempera ...), we will then perceive that white is much more than a simple concept between writing and figure, and if there is not a lack, it is this "inframince" (Duchamp) in which the essential seems to play out. Between materiality and immateriality, opacity and transparency, readability and illegibility, between the Far East and the Far West, we will try to highlight the implication of Zen-Buddhist philosophy at the origin, it seems to us, of this asthetic between something and already almost nothing. The spaces of white are, in Mira Schendel's work, this field of possibilities and these curls of mysteries in which the spirit of a philosopher artist is better reflected than all. 

Margaux Coquelle-Roëhm : "I arrange the blank in the dark : poetic of blank in J. Roubaud’s work"

By reversing the common use of blanks, often approached as voids, Jacques Roubaud sees the layout of his poems as an enunciative gesture that participates in the construction of meaning. Blanks give the poem its own iconic dimension and "vi-lisibilité" [visibility-readability]. They enable “space play” (as in word play) that delinearize reading and foster thinking on temporality. Based on a body of texts showing a poetic use of blanks (paragraph, blanks within the line, tabular display), we will define a category of "topographic blanks" that organise the form of the poem in the graphic space. We will then define different functions that Roubaud assigns to those blanks. Roubaud conceives the poem as a shifting "quartet of forms" - two external, spoken and written, two internal, "aural" (the inner voice), and "wRitten" (the mental picture of the page). Blanks enable to suspend the state of the poem - the reader will take a moment of silence if they are reading out loud, or see that the poem briefly stops on the page - while preserving its potential. Blanks help redefining the verse as an "effecteur de mémoire" [the verse triggers a memory process] through its rhythm. We will thus show how the poetry as a mediation and a "memory of the language" is accomplished within the page, through the use of blanks.

Norbert Danysz : "White Deer Plain drawn by Li Zhiwu: what functions for whiteness?"

Comic art in China is intricately linked to painting and makes extensive use of traditional Chinese art principles, such as the incompletion and the multiple potentialities of whiteness. The vast majority of Chinese comics, in particular the lianhuanhua form, are drawn with the brush and printed in black and white; they often use whiteness and emptiness to contrast with the mark, the black, the full. The contemporary comic book by Li Zhiwu revives those principles of composition and balance while exposing a graphic style specific to the author. But whiteness in Li Zhiwu’s art also has a particular meaning, it holds a power of suggestion as well as of indistinction, which transposes in the images the magical elements of the original novel by Chen Zhongshi.

Sylvie Decorniquet : "The energetic space of blanks in André du Bouchet’s poetic writing"

André du Bouchet’s poetic writing is characterized by a dissemination of words on the page, granting a visual preponderance to blanks. This visual aspect proves his desire to combine poetry and painting. The poet feeds his thoughts on Cézanne’s blank use, these unpainting spaces which don’t fall into omission but intentionally form a part of the canvas, and question what a recurring term designates as "support". This term first refers to the page on which the words of an incomplete text appear. But the delimitation of a pictorial or scriptural space to the only dimension provided by paper or canvas is challenged by a conception that includes its object within the space of which it is only a provisionally differenciated fragment. The blank then refers to that unfigurable transparent envelope which is called "air". Both the canvas and the page are inscribed into a colorless space that includes them and is related to the aerial element. This element, like an optical fluid, specifies the binder between items, which makes the visible. The transparency of the air feeds painters’ research in that it carries luminous refractions. The poet reflects in his writing this very fascination for vibratory intensities, points of blindness, through the blank areas which are akin to the universal ether vibrating under the light, primary principle without which nothing could take any existence.

Blanche Delaborde : "The use of white space in manga multilayer layouts"

Manga is a narrative medium that has taken on varied formats over time. In regular layouts, the grid neatly separates the white space outside of the panels, which takes on a syntactic role, and the white space inside of the panels, which pertains to the iconic representation of space. The gradual development of irregular layouts in certain manga genres, and more specifically the creation of multilayer layouts in manga intended for young girls (shōjo manga) in the 1960’s, has changed the status of white spaces in the narrative economy of these manga. In these multi-layered layouts, the elimination of part of the frames and the encroachment of the images on one another give certain white surfaces a syntactic function of logically relating several figures without relying on the frames and panels. These surfaces are then the place of a tension between this syntactic function, the iconic function of representing space, and to a certain extent the expressive function of representing the mental states of the characters. I propose to study the various ways in which multilayer layouts use white spaces by investing more or less this tension. Moreover, the question of the representation of time in manga and comics in general is deeply connected to to that of the organization of the page, and we will investigate the specific role that white surfaces can play in this regard in multilayer layouts.

Catherine Denis : "The crucial gaze of the white space: the active emptiness"

In the text "From Chinese character to alphabetical letter", I wrote: "At the very beginning was the sound. I could hear the notes played on the piano [...]. And when I was upstairs, they let me feel the space of silence which welcomed them." (Catherine Denis, Du caractère à la lettre, par Yves Bergeret et Nathalie Woog, Apogée, 2005, p. 8). It is clear that before the sound, there is silence; before the trace of the brush, there is the white space of the Chinese paper or the full printed space of the newspaper page, which attract the movement of my brush. Both spaces are blank as I have not yet touched them. The practice of Chinese calligraphy which I experienced for nearly ten years in China, taught me to observe the space of the paper before using the brush to enable myself to experience fully the drawing of the line. Indeed, it is important to note that the « blank » space is already there before the movement of my brush, and so it is the bearer of my intention:  意在笔先 (yi zai bi xian, intention precedes the movement), postface to Plan de bataille du pinceau by Wei Furen (题卫夫人“笔陈图”后,王羲之,历代书法论文选,上海书画出版社  Wei Furen "Bi chen tu" hou, Wang Xizhi, Lidai shufa lunwen xuan, Shanghai Shuhua Chubanshe). The "blank" space as well as "the full printed space", are perceived in my mind in the same order of emptiness which let forms appear and at the same time will take shape by receiving and reflecting my artistic movement. I look at the blank space, and this space looks back towards me.

Nathalie Dietschy : "Post-photographic blanks: Erasing, emptying, revealing"

In black and white silver photography, white is trace of light, whereas it can become a proof of an iconoclastic gesture in a number of contemporary projects that erase the content of pre-existing photographs (Mishka Henner, Less Américains, 2012; Michael Schirner, Bye Bye, 2006-09). Since the rise of digital technologies and the post-production manipulation of images, blank spaces can be understood as a gesture of questioning the nature of digital photography. The color white as seen as absence of content bear witness to a practice of photography or "post-photography" inscribed in an ecology of images that aims to recycle images already produced in order to give them new meanings. Elements are isolated, objects are erased. These strategies can be interpreted as a response to today’s image abundance. This communication proposes to analyze the ways in which white constitutes a lacunar space that not only questions the status of evidence assigned to photography but also reveals new (post-)photographic practices in a society overwhelmed by images.

Estelle Ingrand-Varenne : "The Conquest of Spaces: Inscriptions in Latin writing and “Blank Space” in the Middle Ages"

At the same time that blank spaces begin to appear in medieval manuscripts, inscriptions reintroduce the dots between words. This choice shows the "graphic economy" specific to epigraphy, due to the use of capital letters, an unrelated bilinear writing, without hierarchy. Texts on stone, wood, glass or metal often become an integral part of a work. Unlike manuscripts, epigraphic texts are not bound by the page and a notion of "blank space". Indeed, blank spaces seem inappropriate within epigraphy. It is on this difference that this research focuses by examining the relationships among space, surface and matter that medieval epigraphic writing establishes, and the types of "blank spaces" it generates, in particular two cases. One case examines when a circumscribed space is dedicated to inscriptions. Blank space appears at the end of the text as a closure, but in some instances this blank space is also replaced by vegetal or geometric signs at the end of the lines. The other case examines when inscriptions are part of an image. Other graphic dynamics free the inscriptions from spatial marking, and the line of writing becomes multidirectional. Instead of removing blank space in the inscription, its nature has changed. In order to understand the plurality of blank spaces and their (icono/epi)graphic corollaries, the study will draw on inscriptions from the Latin East of the 12th-13th c. in their plurigraphic context in comparison to the West in order to bring out the specificities of epigraphy and the Latin alphabet.

Roxane Jubert : "BLANC [white]: an experimental book – an excursion between research and creative output"

The meanings of "white" radiate in different spheres. White can connote space, light, clarity, a page, an absence of any marks, a counter, a pause, respiration and suspension. This word conjures up innumerable concepts – as though transmitted from the dawn of time – which project as far as the eye can see. This project called BLANC has been designed in the shape of a book, inspired by boundless resources that the word evokes. The result is an original, composite graphic object, fusing research and experimentation. Fragments of texts exploring white in connection with writing, space, contrasts, the elusive, etc. (poetry, etymology, quotations, definitions, turns of phrase, old expressions) interact with various materials, forms, signs and letters gathered in our surroundings. BLANC weaves words, paper and marks, expressing the association of ideas, collations, metaphors and other ramifications. It is driven by observation, plays with words and meanings – an invitation to a perceptive experience, reflexion and interpretation. Blending typography with artisanal plastic means, this creative graphic object has been designed with a view to sustainability, at a time which calls for an economy of means in both conception and production, given current environmental issues.

Marie Kondrat : "Naming the blanc: translating the Wolfgang Iser's concept of Leerstelle"

The concept of Leerstelle was introduced to literary theory by Wolfgang Iser to denote the fragments missing in a text and pointed out through narrative means and through perception. For Iser, reading is as much a spatial and visual experience as it is a temporal one, both a matter of perception and of imagination. Iser thus compares reading to watching film, the visual field of the screen to the narrative arrangement of text. This analogy serves him as a basis for defining a series of notions related to textual absence, including that of Leerstelle, which refers to blanks to be filled, certainly not visible but which have become tangible according to the comparison with visual representation. In this paper, I will examine how the different translations of the term Leerstelle crystallize the protean aspect of the concept and the tensions inherent in Iser's approach: the confrontation of two traditionally distinct representative models, the narrative and the image. If visual perception represents a decisive impulse for the recognition and formalization of textual blanks, these are never limited to the perceptual level. Therefore, the same conceptual dominants do not emerge with the Leerstelle as with the gap in English and the blanc in French. In considering some other possible equivalents of the term Leerstelle, I will therefore question the very need to translate it.

Katalin Kovacs : "Painting in White: the Paintings of the Void » of Sandor Molnar"

The presentation aims to illustrate the conceptual richness of the notion of white in painting, by the example of the series of "Paintings of the Void", exhibited in 2016 in Budapest by the contemporary Hungarian artist Sandor Molnar. The presentation of the series raises several general questions: by what means do these paintings visualize the white spaces? How can they show the Void? In the context of this very particular pictorial universe, my objective is to show that these paintings are not empty (used in the sense of not represented) and that they do not lack content, but they are the results of the artist’s intention to show pure light through these white spaces. This conception is supported by the theory developed by the artist in his writings, according to which the ultimate goal of painting is the representation of the Void that the images in white, which come from his last period of creation, are supposed to illustrate. Sándor Molnár also gives the key to the reception of his paintings, which require special strategies from the viewer: the spectator must empty his consciousness, forget the habit of analysis practiced when observing narrative paintings and let himself be penetrated by the universal Void. It is in this state of mind that he can perceive the pulsation of the Void, made visible by the white spaces in the paintings.

Marie Laureillard : "He Youzhi (1922-2016) or the role of white in Chinese comics"

He Youzhi (1922-2016), a self-taught artist, fully participated in the golden age of Chinese comics (lianhuanhua), which enjoyed special favors from Mao’s regime from 1949 onwards. After being silenced during the Cultural Revolution, he resumed his artistic production at the end of the 1970s. According to the official line, he had to reflect life, therefore to be realistic, excluding some topics which were well represented in Japan for instance (such as ghosts). In his writings, he makes us understand his art from within: he considered himself as a painter, but of a special type, since Chinese comics are often an adaptation of a literary work and share some features with theater. He underlined the fundamental role of "emptiness" in its relationship with "wholeness", rooted in a powerful pictorial tradition. In light of various epistemological orientations (Christin, Cheng, Derrida, etc.), we will analyze the dominance of white in his linear-drawn comics, where the black of the line gains its value only through the white it crosses, wraps, or splits. We will try to show how He Youzhi raised lianhuanhua to new heights through ellipsis, inspired by the famous formula of the Taoist philosopher Laozi: "know the white, preserve the black".

Julie Leblanc : "Typographical spaces, photographic ekphrasis and clichés in some of Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical texts and avant-textes"

The introduction of typographical blanks within written narratives are never gratuitous and they are always plagued with hermeneutic challenges. The typographical representation of narrative interruptions, incompleteness’s, silences, can give rise to an "unstructured, disarticulated, amputated" narrative (J. Michel, Une mise en récit du silence, p. 9) and introduce ambiguities. If the typographic blanks in Annie Ernaux's memoirs (The Years) appear at first to have organizational functions, used to signal the introduction of the numerous photographic ekphrasis (portraits of Ernaux) that underlie her texts narrative structure, the study of the unpublished manuscripts of The Years (BnF) which retrace the genesis of her memoirs clearly show that these typographical spaces are an integral part of the narrative: it’s form and content. These blanks act as marks of "énonciation" as they signal the autobiographical subject's presence within her narrative, translate her attitude towards her utterances (her forgetfulness, unwillingness to provide a linear story-line, desire to impose self-censorship), and seem closely linked to her difficulties at describing certain events, feelings or memories. These spaces of textual indeterminacy, act as a form of stimuli encouraging the reader to grasp their relationship to the photographic ekphrasis which they serve to introduce, to the autobiographical narrative unfolding before our eyes and to the concept of personal and collective memory evoked throughout The Years. The performative nature of these typographical blanks, which arises from the fact that they visually represent the lapses of memory and instances of unspeakability which preoccupied Ernaux during the conception of The Years, possess impressive rhetorical powers, prompting the reader to relive the difficult process of remembering that Ernaux was engaged in during the writing of this long autobiographical narrative. The enigmatic nature of typographic blanks, their performative nature, their relationship to the numerous photographic ekphrasis which undermine the narrative integrity of her memoirs and finally their relationship to important leitmotiv (history, memory, forgetting, life, writing) call the reader to action and provide him with a thoroughly sophisticated and provocative approach to reading as a relational and performative process.

Laurent Long : "Know white, yet abide by purple: dealing with space and density when designing Chinese seals"

Chinese Aesthetics revolves around dealing with absence and blank spaces. Poetry, music, painting and calligraphy all systematically exploit echoes and silent extensions. The founding texts of Daoism including Laozi have been the fountainheads of Chinese concepts, and emphasize median emptiness, hollows and vales. Its role in painting and – to a lesser degree in Literature and music for the seven stringed zither – has been researched by Robert van Gulik, François Jullien and François Cheng among others. Yet unexpressed potential is central to the fundamental concepts in the literati’s artistic endeavours. The lesser known art of seal carving will be dealt with analysing some principles applied when designing seals. Lengthening and broadening of characters, selecting complex or simpler forms of the graphs, expanding or shrinking of the space each character occupies, adjusting density in a character or in the whole seal present the seal carver with every opportunity. This often implies "sparing some red space" – when carving intaglio – to play purposedly on empty spots, letting the beholder feel at ease in the narrow space of a "square inch", that aims at balance emerging from irregular shapes. Analysis of a selection of seals old and new will allow to fathom how complex the creator’s choices are when "spreading red and arrange white". 

Liliane Louvel : "Memory blanks and white pages"

Relying on American literature typographically experimenting innovative graphic inscriptions and meaningful visuality, I will try to see how "blanks" as experimental "reserves" maybe a way of both signposting and enhancing absence by interrupting, expanding, spacing out the typographic smooth unrolling of text in novels dedicated to deep anguish or traumas. Blanks then are in absentia inscriptions. In The House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielevsky resorts to complex varied typographical layouts. In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foe consistently uses blanks to refer to the loss of the hero’s father’s during the 9/11 attacks. The book uses numerous photographs and blanks to suggest the personal elliptic trauma and the impossible access to memory. Textual blanks are means to try and approach the young boy’s most intimate feelings while also reporting a traumatic world-wide transmitted event. Blanks then have a two fold repercussion. Once more, "writing to see" (A.-M. Christin. L’image écrite) is an intermedial apparatus aiming at writing out a state of expectation and latency, a space where persistent although forgotten events can eventually emerge. Then the invisible may be inscribed both in the character’s memory and in the reader’s mind. Traces, signs and tracks may be deciphered following Carlo Guinsburg’s method and the seminal figures of detective, psychoanlayst and art critic.

Émilie Rigaud : "Utopia of grey and Japanese typeface design"

The conference wants to examine the relationship between empty and full in the creation; the creation of a typeface is purely this, there is no alternative to black and white. Yet designers are looking to create a "typographic grey", born from the visual balance between black and white within each letter and between the letters, by the average impression that the eye gets when reading a text. Latin typography aims to make the most homogeneous grey possible, it is a criteria for a good quality typeface. However, in Japanese typography, a homogeneous grey cannot be achieved, for the Japanese text is by nature heterogeneous on two different levels : the writing system itself combines 4 scripts that are different in their structure, and, within the sinograms, the range of variation in "whiteness" of the signs is very wide. The most gifted designer could not solve what would be considered as a problem for any typeface designer dealing with Latin alphabet. Bearing this in mind, the talk will explain some of the challenges inherent to designing Japanese fonts by presenting some of the most representatives Japanese typefaces of the second half of the 20th century, such as Hiragino, installed on all of our computers, or Taiposu, a typeface that completely changed the way to make type in Japan in the 1970s.

Pascal Robert : "The white space in comics: a shape generator?"

The space of white in comic strip art intervenes on three levels: that of the page and its layout, that of the balloons and that of the drawing. We would like to come back to these three variations of white in comics in this communication, with a semiotic vocation. In all three cases, this white space is by no means neutral, it fully participates in the way the comic strip is constructed and told in comic strips.  White, in all three cases, is not the same, but it nevertheless always acts as a generator of forms: forms of the comic strip itself, forms of its graphic sound, forms of the drawing. White participates, in its own singular way, in what has been called elsewhere a graphic actant (Robert 2018): it is not a neutral background, but a space of possibilities, a virtual space (that of the condition of possibility of the line) which allows the generation of a set of forms through which the comic strip can come to life and express itself fully, unless it is denied or trimmed, a gesture which is not neutral either.

Anne Rochebouet : "Blank Space and Text Structure : how the Medieval Codex structure textual and visual Space (13th -15th c.)"
This paper aims to analyze the way in which blank space plays an essential role in the layout of the medieval codex as well as in the textual and intellectual structuring of texts copied in manuscripts. By considering examples of French texts copied between the 13th and 15th centuries, it will first explore the role of blank space in the construction, for the reader's eye, of thresholds and thus of textual units; it will then study how the use of blank  space, within the closed space delimited within the page by the writing frame, can bring into play complex strategies, and how these can be part of a wider system revealing the status claimed by the text.
Hélène Thierard : "Spatial form in literature: Raoul Hausmann and the dynamics of blanks"
"The ‘blanks’, indeed, take on importance". Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971) could have put this quotation from Mallarmé at the forefront of his book Hylé. Ein Traumsein in Spanien (1969/2006), a long experimental form akin to the novel, but composed by way of textual montage and defying any linear reading. Assembling narrative, poetic and reflexive textual units, this mixed form features a strong conception of compositional blanks, inherited from the spatial and typographic poetry of the first avant-gardes: in Hylé, the blanks in between not only show the articulations of the montage, but also function a rich, multi-directional connective space, urging the reader to explore the ensemble “in all directions” to co-construct meaning. As such, Hylé must be read as an intermedial transposition of the photomontage and spatial poetry practised by Dadaist Hausmann between 1918 and 1922. Back then, Hausmann used active reception as a means to modify the structures of the consciousness of the viewer/reader and to renew his/her relationship to the world. Elaborating on this utopian conception of art, my contribution reflects the historical context of exile in the 1930’s which is at the core of Hylé and shows how the spatial dynamics of blanks produces a space of ideological resistance in a Europe marked by authoritarian nationalisms.
Elisa Tonani : "The typographical drawing of the poem ». Contemporary poetry facing the layout"
My paper will focus on particularly significant cases of the enhancement of typographic white in Italian poetry since the second half of the 20th century. Even poetry that does not aim to present itself as visual or graphic or spatial poetry, after the experiments of the beginning of the 20th century (Apollinaire and Mallarmé in France, Futurism in Italy), can no longer go back: the most prominent poets  Giorgio Caproni, Andrea Zanzotto, Giovanni Giudici, Edoardo Sanguineti among others  (re)discover the materiality of the writing, the empty / full relationship in the page, the "typographical design of the poem" (to quote the words de Giudici), as much in their reflections on poetics as in their textual practices. This path will lead us, on the one hand, to consider the presence of white in relation to other punctuation marks (as already suggested by Pierre Reverdy in 1917), that is to say white punctuation in relation to black punctuation; on the other hand, we will note how white is as much of the visual dimension as of the oral dimension of writing, as much from sight as from listening, as much from drawing as from music (rhythm) of the poem; two dimensions which, far from being mutually exclusive, coexist in the choices and in the reflections of poets who are finally aware of the ideographic heritage that is hidden even in languages based on the alphabet.

Elora Weill-Engerer : "A white canvas is not but an empty one"

The author of White on White once wrote that "Art must not go towards its reduction or simplification but towards complexity". This apparently paradoxical statement implied the distinction between an almost blank canvas and an empty one, also spotted by Arthur Danto in The Transfiguration of the commonplace. According to Gilles Deleuze, the canvas, as the page, is never blank but rather rich of all the possibilities: "The canvas is packed with the worst, the problem will be to withdraw, withdraw these invisible things which have already invaded the canvas. It means that evil is already there". This conception of the non-empty white canvas is also shared by the artists of Historical Minimalism, many of whom find their inspiration in oriental philosophy. The Zen theory according to which the void is full, influenced specifically Jean Degottex, admirer of the monk Shitao who used to say that "the paper waits to drink the ink". The artist will also remember in his 1950-1670s’ works, the concept of Japanese ma, an interval which binds both calligraphic lines and links them together, that is to say a "meaningful void" which echoes the title of the 1975 series Full Papers. Conversely, the gesture of creative erasing is articulated in 1953 with the work Erased de Kooning Drawing by Robert Rauschenberg which makes the scrub an addition instead of a withdrawal.


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