© Kuvasto 2016. Photo: © Bank of Finland
A SLASH IN CANVAS
Mauri Favén’s (1920–2006) painting is an elegant interpretation of the eternal problem of how two planes can be represented in a three-dimensional world. For this purpose, Renaissance artists developed a perspective that was a deceptive imitation of reality. While one of the aims of modern, non-objective art was to return to the basics of painting, to the planar surface. Often this means a harsh composition of straight-lined, geometric forms.
Three dimensions appear in Favén’s painting in three ways: a blue “sheet” that looks as if it is peeling off a wall, in which a deep furrowed slash has been made. Nor is this enough: the surface of the wall is peeling off the painting with the help of three lines, almost as if the slashed surface and the blue sheet form a surface of their own and the painting also forms its own surface. The painting’s narrative continues beyond this. A line running along the edge, which has a perspective giving the impression that the lower edge has a different perspective from the upper edge. The viewer’s perception is that the square sheet is bending in two directions. This gives the optical illusion of movement in the painting.
Thus, Favén illustrates a complex spatial illusion in a simplified manner, and at the same time mischievously treats an art form that favours tight geometric forms. The blue “sheet” appears to be of waving paper or fabric, and the “slash” plays on the ideas of the Italian artist Lucio Fontana. He sliced a palette knife through his canvasses thereby giving them a three-dimensional surface. Favén commented on Fontana’s slicing using his paintbrush.