Ex Nihilo

“No chaos, damn it! There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end,” says the man bent toward the raw canvas, stretched and nailed to his studio floor. A critic once described Jackson Pollock’s work as “chaos, absolute lack of harmony, complete lack of structural organization, total absence of technique, however rudimentary. Once again, chaos.”

But you have watched the recordings of his work. He waves his right arm, down, side to side, his body sways, dipping a paint stirrer into an aluminum can of paint that he holds in his left hand, his thumb sticky from gripping the inside of the can. His lips hold a cigarette in his mouth. He steps left, right, forward; his legs stretch and his head bows. His wrist snaps and the paint falls in long ribbons, dribbling from the stirrer in his hand onto the canvas beneath his feet. He seems to dance across the canvas, light-footed as he moves, perhaps performing a more ancient act than he knows.

He says, “Because a painting has a life of its own, I try to let it live.” You agree: this is not chaos; this is animation, pattern, meaning.