In this dimension, art has a homeostatic function. In a manner of speaking, art is an experience. This kind of experience seems to run through the work of Alexandros Maganiotis.
Maganiotis was interested in painting all along. The innocent brushstrokes of his clidhood years gave way to the more structured images of his teens, yet his journey towards art did not follow a standard route. He first studied architecture in Athens, following up with a master’s degree in architectural design in London before settling in a career. Yet, there was always something lacking. In 2010, when economic recession hit Greece, ripping apart all established frameworks, Maganiotis experienced the trigger which completed his artistic cycle. He reinvented himself in art and channeled his subjective anxiety in his trademark expressive style, reuniting with the mythical canvases of his childhood…
In his recent solo exhibition, Maganiotis touches with his brush upon something that pertains to this order. He depicts what psychoanalytic theory not only introduced at the beginning of the last century but recognized as the cornerstone of the symbolic order, as the very cradle of word and signification: the dipole Fort –Da2.
The object is being conceived through the search of the lost object, Lacan will ascertain. It’s an object that is rediscovered in an advanced stage; it is the object of ablactation, the warmth of the mother’s lap, nostalgia, the mooring of the primary satisfactions of the child. This object is, nevertheless, the originating source of anxiety experienced by a child when the sudden departure of his mother is substituted by a wooden reel with a piece of string tied around it. What the child (in effect, Freud’s grandson) did was to hold the reel by the string and very skillfully throw it over the edge of his curtained cot so that it disappeared. He then pulled the reel back to the cot and hailed its reappearance. Every time this imaginary course was concluded, the child uttered expressively and joyfully “Fort – Da!” (“There – Here!”).
This infantile game depicts a mental process. The reel will henceforth contain the perpetual quest of what is being lost but recovered in the present when this primordial anxiety fades, thus giving way to a decisive mental integration: there will always be something lacking in reappearance insofar as something will always be present in disappearance. That is, in effect, the very constitution of the word.
This is precisely where the symbolism of Maganiotis’ artwork Absence – Presence lies.
In the interplay of the mother/child relationship, where the child beckons, demands his mother’s presence. And it is within this +/- antithesis that lies the possibility, the fundamental condition of Language. A word is already presence made of absence; it contains the intonation, the marks, and the traces that remain from this combination3.
Maganiotis’s two-fold artwork effectively challenges the symbols of the diptych: a permutation, a tight embrace of what is being lost, a joyous and simultaneous reclaim is underway. Endless combinations of this duality can potentially be expressed.
This complex crest therefore becomes the bearer of a knowledge artistically defined insofar as it generates enjoyment, as a substitute for the quest. Within this economy, the graph of subjective desire is being established en coup de vent… It’s an inventive aphaeresis, the remnant of which is bonded to the maternal object and therefore becomes its representation.
Is it a symbol an emblem or an armorial? Whatever it may be, this heraldic depiction envelops the sublime object of love as it springs forth and clothes the gaze with the fundamental beauty of a cupid or of a little child… on the verge of Reality.
To that extent, absence takes on its meaning in a primordial instance of presence, the perpetual recreation of which Freud illustrated in his description of his grandson’s game. And from this coordinated pair of absence and presence, the universe of language will be born, within which the universe of matter will eventually reside4. It reminds us of the binary constitution of an object, and that sublimation, with the transformational function it employs, will always contain in its core, that very fraction that organizes the human stage.
1 Anxiety: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book X. Cambridge, Polity Press, pp. 16-27.
2 Freud, S. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1961, pp. 17 – 21.
3 Lacan, J. Le Séminaire livre IV, la relation d’objet, Paris, Seuil, 1994, p. 25-74.
4 Lacan, J. Ecrits, “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis”, New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 2006, pp. 227-229.