Untitled #5, 1998

After Agnes Martin

 

When Agnes came on screen, I thought of all the canvases
that still hold her gaze. Maybe a painting is an accumulation

of our gazes and why they sometimes seem human. When I
look at the pastel bands, the painting collects my seeing and

sends back a dead person’s feelings. I am surprised when the
feelings don’t feel outdated. Agnes said an artist needs to be

alone. What if I’ve spent my whole life wanting to be seen?
In that way, I’ve wanted to be the painting, not the painter.

But I am the painter. Even now, I walk outside at night just so
the sky can see me one more time. Stéphane Mallarmé once

wrote: Paint, not the thing, but the effect it produces. I have
wanted the sky all along, but my wanting was misplaced. I lift

my hand into the air and feel something grabbing my wrist.

But it’s not the sky, it’s the beauty of the sky.




Victoria Chang
Isaac Fitzgerald

Victoria Chang’s new book of poetry is The Trees Witness Everything (Copper Canyon Press). Her nonfiction book, Dear Memory (Milkweed Editions), was published in 2021OBIT (Copper Canyon Press, 2020)was named a New York Times Notable Book, Time Must-Read Book, and received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and the PEN/Voelcker Award. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and lives in Los Angeles and teaches within Antioch’s low-residency MFA Program.

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