Post Road Magazine #8

Angie Drakopoulos: Paintings Introduction by Ian Bickford

Sequence III Sequence IV (Detail) Sequence VII Sequence III Sequence VI Sequence IV Sequence I

When you lean toward the surface of the resin, there follows a solid second during which you don't know where to stop. This is an old feeling, antique, embarrassed, yet buried in a new astonishment—its origins in that early moment when your first set of second lips were bombing toward you and you suddenly realized, to your alarm, that you'd never really thought about the blunt, relentless fact of your face. Awful: your brow a hull-like bulge, your nose-tip a treasonous agent that, you understood before it happened, would block the finish of this forbidden gesture. Meanwhile new distances multiplied in front of you. It was a landscape of cells and crystals. You bit your tongue and yelped. You wanted in.

There's a line from one or another of Richard Powers's novels: you'll shrink to nothing in the size of this, but you will not disappear.

Or there's the thing that physicist David Bohm was sure of, the belief that motivated his imagination of a quantum universe: physical existence is participatory, it is whole, and you can feel every law of it in your body.

Angie Drakopoulos makes art as though she were trying to reassemble a world whose pieces have been splintered against the bulwark of the history of human thought and scattered over time to the partisanship of context and discipline. Under Drakopoulos's guidance, physics meets and merges with metaphysics. Astronomy remembers its kinship to the zodiac. Mathematics absorbs and is absorbed by philosophy. Chemistry warms to alchemy. Logic welcomes myth. Nowhere does hard science surrender an inch of its precision, nor does the uncanny recant its magic. Rather, in these multilayered, multidimensional collages, discrete symbolic systems are reconciled as simultaneous and therefore related. They fade into each other, measuring themselves against the thousand shapes and possibilities spiraling in all directions. They disappear into each other's background. They become impossible to sort.

In other words, Drakopoulos's work is given wholly to the chance of seeing around corners. When light hits these pieces, from one angle and then from another, feverish hints emerge from far inside of shapes that—you're sure—will profoundly change the significance of the shapes floating more boldly near the surface. The result is a longing to see behind, to peer into the substratum, to position your body at a perfect diagonal that will lead you straight back to the foundation of all these layers—that will deliver you to the source. It's a wish that betrays its own limitations. You know you'll collide with some other journeying body. And here, here is Drakopoulos's real insight: any exploration, any theory, any rubric of faith or art or science is at its center an exercise in interrupted travel. Eventually organic molecular structures, say, will equal—will indeed become indistinguishable from—even the largest orbital diagrams of galaxies and nebulae because they each enter our range of perception via the narrow roads of human sense and material experience. We can crane our necks and squint. We can trade our telescopes for microscopes. There will always be bodies in the path of our bodies, shining and moving, sending our light back to us •

Ian Bickford's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in LIT, CutBank, Smartish Pace, the Asheville Poetry Review, Spork, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.

 Copyright © 2016 | Post Road Magazine | All Rights Reserved