Eternally Vanishing Bodies, the title of a series of paintings by Dag Erik Elgin comes as a surprise. For at first sight the paintings reveal no image of a recognizable figure, on the contrary: the viewer is faced with a black square, the ultimate manifestation of the abstract picture. But a second glance reveals a network of black lines, in which the room is partly reflected, but also partly recedes into the black grounding. Two seemingly irreconcilable major principles in painting are in collision here; the black square, the absolute zero position in abstract painting, is challenged by mundane interventions, by fleeting intrusions such as reflections of the room, or reflected light, or the mirror image of the viewer.
Linguistic philosophy uses the term event to describe what happens when the reader becomes aware of the inability of a text to communicate meaning. When the meaning departs from a text, a vacuum is created in that text, and the reading of it no longer follows its usual linear path. Instead a verticality arises, a deep, concrete hole in the text, in which a previously unknown concept of the figure has been inserted, quite different from the familiar silhouette of the figura.
Like texts, monochrome painting has also lost its original signification, and it can no longer connect with the radicalism, nor the historical significance of the sublime. It is nevertheless still possible to maintain that monochrome painting is part of the critical canon of painting; in the zone of tension between the black square and the intrusive reflection, between the mirror image and the shimmering network, direct communication with the viewer and the room takes place. In that the mirror images of the viewer and of the room are admitted to the picture, the isolation of the monochrome picture is broken; a paradoxical concession, the admission of hierarchy into the non-hierarchical system of the network. A reflection in a mirage, an event between picture, room and viewer. Fleetingly; like eternally vanishing bodies.
EVB I Anthracite, 203x203 cm: 2007. Albertinum Collection Dresden
EVB II Ivory, 203x203 cm : 2007. Galerie Opdahl Berlin
Sinthome SSXL2, 75x75 cm : Figure, MGM Gallery 2007
B. Newman Cathedra 1958: in the studio with unknown viewer