Final Work

His final work was discovered after his death. A larger than life piece, the canvas stood 14’ tall and 4’ wide. Half of the canvas was titanium white with a single dot of vantablack, no more than a micron, less than the diameter of a human hair. Vantablack does not reflect light, and the dot gave the illusion of being a hole in the canvas. The dot was located 5’ up from the floor, exactly at the artist’s eye level, as if it represented the center of his right pupil.

The other side was all glossy jet black. You could stand there for hours trying to find the white dot, the Yin or Yang that would provide symmetry and completeness. That wasn’t the artist’s point. I’m convinced of that. What you were supposed to do was realize that in the looking, you would discover your own reflection.

In the artist’s world view, that everything was binary, black or white. If you saw gray, you weren’t close enough to see the small white and black bits. This obelisk work reinforced the idea on a gigantic scale, daring the viewer to step right up to the surface to reassert a sense of balance, to find the truth, to prove that there was a white dot.

The artist believed that every creation held one mistake, one lie, that had to be accepted by the viewer in order for the piece to be true. To bring life to the work, the viewer had to not only recognize the flaw, but accept it, becoming complicit with the art itself. Only in believing the lie is the truth revealed.

Painting, sculpture, writing, music, even dance, all must become vulnerable, exposing the wound and inviting us to step forward, place our hand inside, challenge our doubt, and learn the truth.

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