There is a compulsive element in travel. Rather than being something that we do or decide upon, it snatches us up and carries us away. Conscious of some inexorable appointment, we travel and live as drifters, like the jaguar with its straying eyes. The landscape falls away behind us, setting fire to the retina or the palette. And the palette invents and transcribes the running flames or the wound made by things; they were all caressed by time with silver swords. And in this travelling and living we divine the moment that we are reserving for the ultimate experience: that of the all-embracing instant that picks the abyss as its place of protection
When Bruce Chatwin decided to set out on his journey to Patagonia, the‹‹one thing he did not do was to equip himself with maps and plans of that‹‹distant land that had begun to devour his imagination. All that he had to do‹‹was to make his way to the little bookshop close by Covent Garden to‹‹obtain a set of minutely detailed maps of his ensuing steps. Instead, he‹‹preferred to draw a map of his own making following the random rhythms of encounters and apparitions. And so his nomadic notebook came into being, reflecting the archipelago of the world, with fragments and times that are barely recorded in the constantly interrupted narrative. A narrative configured as a sequence of landscapes and things, words, voices and times. For the nomad, movement is morality. It is his way of seeing, understanding and thinking. Travelling becomes the method par excellence, and in the light of this travelling things take on their meaning and direction. A map, his own, ever provisional and prospective, with no security other than that derived from the hazy order that imbues the constellation of things.
3. Map of wanderings
Only writing sets the experience of travelling in order. With the logic of simulation writing brings together the different moments of a process that the traveller makes his own as an accumulation of meetings and absences. It does not matter that these fragments may be presented as materials of abandon or disaster. “They alone do not fear the truth of their destiny,” Rimbaud confessed. And it is the traveller, crossing this in-between space, this kind of Zwischenland, who is able finally to narrate his ownwanderings. A tale that penetrates the maze of things to show them in their definitive provisionality. The old geometry withdraws and the rusty compass no longer manages to trace the ideal figure of the world which, as in the story of Arthur Gordon Pym, begins to be populated with lakes, rivers and words
4. South Truro
One day the travellers decided to follow in Hopper’s tracks. From cape to cape, from Palos to Cape Cod, with no other baggage than a fatal attraction for the cold light that embraces the hills of South Truro and is transformed into warm reds as it penetrates the interior. Along the Banks of the Hudson or in New England the houses are of light wood, looking as if they are planted in the grass. At intervals small lighthouses boldly cast their messages of solitariness into the night.
5. Squam Light
There they are, as if in a real landscape, houses, roofs, two or three boats, the lighthouse, all painted as if they were part of oneself. A strange harmony that the light intensifies until it becomes the element defining Hopper’s painting. “All I am after is to paint the light that falls on the angle of a wall or a roof,” he confessed on his return to Paris. From a certain distance and with no less decision he went back to the sheltered space of Cape Cod, where once again things were acquiring the presence caught in pictures such as South Truro Church, Corn Hill, and Hills South Truro among others. A way of understanding and seeing the landscape that our travellers appropriate for themselves when they return.
6. Morning Sun
Morning Sun is undoubtedly one of the most representative pictures of Hopper’s final period. A woman sitting on a bed in what looks like a small room, facing the window which is open to the rising sun. A woman who has aged. We feel that her relationship with age forms part of the strangeness that disturbs her eyes. She might be Jo, Edward’s wife. It is a carefully annotated work: “light against wall shadow” for an arm, “reflected light” for the back, “dark against wall” for the neck, “cool reflections from sheet” for the bare leg. The fascination with the ceaseless metamorphosis of light is combined with the obsession with taking the sense of solitariness that accompanies life to an extreme. El joven Edward (Young Edward) is painted with the same light and the same expectation. Cabo Palos Landscapes of Cape Cod or Cabo Palos are now seen and painted from the distance that only American films or the stories of John Steinbeck or Dos Passos succeeded in conveying. A way of telling brought to us equally by films, literature and painting, producing the imaginary pictures of solitude from which even heroes in comics scarcely escape. The ironic invention of a possible republic that Charris’s painting incessantly invokes