Life: The Ma between birth and death
Opens: at the ArtCRawl
November 18, 10a-9p
mArchitects, 5TH WARD HOTEL,
Houston TX 77002
“There was no space, no MA, to allow independent thought or activity."1
The blank canvas. The beginning of possibility. Space. Open, inviting, terrifying. It reaches to the edges of imagination. The canvas, the beginning. Space.
A year ago, a friend, who is an architect and professor of architecture, Dr. Marta Rodriguez, mentioned Ma to me. I was instantly fascinated. I began to search and research the concept. How to visualize space, how to draw without lines. How to find the idea of space outside of convention. How to think in the image of interval, space between..
“When we think of boundaries, we think of lines. But what if we thought instead about space? ‘Ma’ is a Japanese boundary, but it isn’t a line. It is a void, an expanse. The literal translation is “space between,” but rather than a static gap, it is the distance that exists between objects as well as between time. It is the silent pause between musical notes, the shadows between the light streaming through blinds, even the interactions between people, whether they are loved or despised.1
It is dynamic, this space. Could it also be the space between life and death? And what would that look like? Is it the pause between intake and exhale of air? Is it the journey rather the than starting place and the end point? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I kept trying to draw it. But the trouble with drawing, in this case, is that one begins with a line, a demarcation, not the interval. The lines define the space. Could the space define the lines? I needed to paint.
“In nothingness, Ma enables. The empty boundary provides a place for everyone’s version of reality or imagination to exist…for everyone’s story to co-exist. It is the boundaries of space that allow us, and all our ideas, to exist side by side.”1
The basic meaning of ma is the interval between two things. This may be temporal, or it may be spatial. In addition, it can refer to the relationship between people, between people and their environment, or between things.2
Between ideas? Between experiences at once abstracted and layered on the canvas? Begin.
Crude, rough, texture, nature, naturalness, harmony, idiosyncratic, ambiguity, intuitive, private, cyclical, expansion, organic. All words that are used to describe Ma. Each word or phrase was scratched into the canvas before the paint was applied, inspiring the focus of each piece, shaping the spaces.
Working in color, color that is vibrant and full of life, color that is bold and yet harmonic, I searched the canvas for Ma. Brush, roller, strokes, glazes, palate knife, water. Colors contained and allowed to run, shapes made and unmade, dark and light. Layers upon layers building the “activity” of a lifetime, and yet, the spaces moved forward and back, calling, pulling inward. In each painting, the lines were cut with a palate knife, last, if at all, capturing the space, and allowing it to be more fully seen. In the space of each artwork there is respite. In this journey of life, this ma between our beginning and ending, finding the oasis of respite is a moment of contemplation, a moment of reflection where we see the spaces of our living, make choices, know ourselves.
As you view the paintings of Life: the Ma between Birth and Death, you are invited into rest, contemplation, the interval between, Ma.
Abrahamson, Lawrence. (2013) in essay, “The Potential of Nothing” © Lawrence Abrahamsom.