"Out of Time"

Graphite on canvas, 230 x 185 cm, 2024

by Boyan Manchev

How is time ‘thematised’? Is such an operation possible? What does time-as-object mean? Or time-as-subject? To what extent can saturation with immaterial energy intensify the space of the image and to what extent can it organise this space? 

What does ‘saturation’ mean: saturation with time? How does space transform itself from a repository into a force field? What does mastering space mean? Or ‘liberating time’? Could we empower space by liberating time? Mastering, liberating, by whom and for whom? What is looking at us?

The frottages in Milko Pavlov’s ‘Resentimenti’ cycle endeavour to answer these questions. Their technique simultaneously poses a question and provides an answer.

Graphite: the medium-matter is rubbed onto the matter of the paper, cardboard, or canvas—in the large format—thus, instead of fixing the time, it spreads it out as a surface, as concentration and dispersion. Graphite is a cloud, a meteorological front, a transition and a potency in an actuality that is not a reduction of the potency.

Graphite is a nebula that dissolves the surface, thus shifting, suspending the fixation of the time of the frozen image, the time of the idol-breaking machine. The time that breaks idols, that is to say, paintings, unfolds here like a serpentine constellation, like a black hole of the image. Graphite is a technique-matter and image into which the revolt of the hand-instrument is transformed. It is the becoming-time of the matter of life. The becoming-matter of the time of life.

The becoming-matter of time is termed ‘dematerialisation’ by Milko Pavlov. In the artist’s words, ‘dematerialisation’, becoming-a-drawing, is a process of entering into time. Pavlov’s frottages are not a drawing, but a becoming-a-drawing; they are the dynamics of potency, that is to say, the dynamics of dynamics. Dematerialisation, as becoming-a-drawing, is the becoming-matter of the time.

His frottages are messianic because they interrupt time, and simultaneously anarchic because they do not end it, but they kindle the multitude of its beginnings, the hearth of the ever-blazing-up sparks, of the scattering matter, of the arm sprouting from the grave, through the cosmic dust of graphite, of carbon, of stellar clay.

Graphite is the matter of time.

Fragment from the Catalogue, ‘Out of Time’, Sofia City Art Gallery, 2011