The title of this exhibition is taken from a poem by the Czech-German expressionist poet Rainer Maria Rilke, found in his “Book of Hours.” The poem begins as follows:
“Dear earth that darkens,
with patience you endure the walls we build.
Perhaps you allow cities to linger one more hour
and grant even two hours to churches and monasteries
and to those who work—maybe let their labor absorb them
another five hours, or seven.
Before you turn back into forest, water, and wild growth,
at that moment of inconceivable terror
when you withdraw your name from all things.
Far from sowing fear, Rilke assumes extreme vulnerability to make a promise:
Give me a little more time.
I want just a little more time because I am going to love things
as no one has dared to love them,
until they are real,
and worthy of you.
It is challenging to look at the present without pain, without the sense that any initiative we take seems minimal, insignificant, compared to the scale of the changes happening. How can we ask for time to love differently? How are we going to sustain bonds of trust, lavish gestures of support, use precise language, devoid of violence and resentment? Contemplation, encouraged by art, has long ceased to be an exercise in aesthetics and has become a collective exercise in introspective ethics. Ethics is a normative discipline: it is always about the question of what we must do. We must see things as they are, without molding our vision of reality to our desires, to what we would like it to be. We must value all positions, even the most radical and opposed, to access an understanding of the world. We must endure others, even if this can be a bitter, almost unbearable exercise. We must foster flashes, moments that offer intuition and allow us—for a second—to glimpse a way out of monolithic positions.
Indeed, I trust blindly that art—and the possibility of finding language from the space it creates with its presence—is capable of helping us break the bad habit of repeating what everyone says and doing very little to improve things close to us. Art generates—I, at least, have felt this way—motivation to find a language that enables us to speak differently and see if there is a possibility of gaining a little more time, of redirecting resentment towards kinder feelings, of softening the hardness that constantly lurks.
This is an exhibition of artists I admire for their ability to provide sharpness and meaning from the surface of painting or material. They all share an ambition for depth, without making the work heavy or obtuse. They all observe, then formulate hypotheses and systems that materialize in the work itself without the need for many arguments or words. In all of them, there is a inclination towards emotionality, towards the importance of expression in the work to reach us. I conclude by quoting the Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran. At the end of a conversation with Cioran about his life, work, fears, and pleasures, when François Bondy was about to leave Cioran’s house, he warns him, insists: “I forgot to tell you that I am a marginal, a marginal who writes to awaken. Repeat it, my books can awaken.” I love this little story of a thinker known for his nihilistic and pessimistic thinking, who nevertheless appeals, with conviction, to the possibility of awakening.