Following the comprehensive exhibition of his work from over the past five decades at the Kunstmuseum Appenzell in 2016, The Path will feature a selection of Bragdon’s drawings, watercolours, and paintings spanning from the 1960s to the present.
I found myself in a world divided. On one side the world as I experienced it, and on the other the world as it was explained by science. The division was forced, in the way freezing water splits rock, by the refusal of science to accept that the world as experienced by persons is also the world as it exists in fact.
I began to draw in an attempt to put the world back together again, to draw it back together. Slowly I discovered that to be able to recover the world’s coherence, I had to find a way of drawing that was also a way of knowing.
I did not want to concede to science the claim to be correctly observing and explaining the world. So I searched for a way of drawing that was also an instrument of observation, serving the personal mode of perception, of a direct conscious perception.
I draw to send roots of perception deeper into the original world. The world that has receded behind layers of computed and projected image and layers of explanatory scientific simulacra and layers of cultural artifact and linguistic virtuality.
The lines, the broken lines and the dots in my drawings each register a specific lived duration, are concretized instances of attention paid to the world, and in which the world gave something of itself. I have chosen landscape and especially mountains as subjects because I find there the most severe contradictions of my own social/psychological encapsulation.
Gathering evidence for the existence of ‘who’, in a world described scientifically exclusively in terms of ‘what’, is the reason I draw a mountain. The experience of such a gigantic pile of matter in front of me, built for millions of years by the mindless operation of geo-mechanical forces, challenges me to fight for the mountain’s freedom. To draw is to discipline myself to step outside the standard physical model and perceive the mountain as directly and precisely as I can, as it feels.
Jonathan Bragdon was born in 1944 in Wilmington, Delaware (USA). His work was recently presented in the retrospective Dasein | Being There at the Kunstmuseum Appenzell and the group exhibition The Forces behind the Forms at Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck / Kunstmuseum Krefeld / Kunstmuseum Thun. The book Dasein | Being There was published 2016 by Steidl Verlag, Göttingen.