and the Paranoiac Representation
Pithamber R. Polsani
University of Arizona at Tucson
The perverse image seemed both and neither.
GOLDEN luminosity consumes the barren plain and the cloudless sky. The horizon barely visible in the yellow luminescence appears to be in flight. On this desolate terrain, in the corner, a solitary translucent amphora—broken—casts an incongruent shadow. In the play of splendid light and pale shadows, blurred vision of a distant town discloses only the contours of congregated buildings. A single two-wheeled cart with two seated figures approaches the settlement.
Bright landscape with a faraway town and a cart with two figures is the subject of this simple painting: The Phantom Cart (1933). In its simplicity the phantom cart captures the gaze of the viewer, demanding a second look. Now, what were wheels have become two staffs lodged in the ground; the two figures in the cart are silhouettes of two towers in the faraway town. The cart that was en route to its intended place has merged with the point of its arrival. Now, with the erased itinerary, the cart is an image of an incessant motion neither traversing space nor passing time. Without space to cross and time to conquer, the cart is its own destination.
The Phantom Cart is about transformed space-time wherein space is neither a point (Euclidean), a dimension (Cartesian), nor a pure intuition (Kantian) but “material and real” (Einsteinian). It is no longer a container of flesh but flesh that is at once the contained and the container. Space is an envelope of viscous consistency that is “colossally alluring, voracious, and personal, that presses at every moment with its disinterested and soft enthusiasm the smooth finesse of the 'strange bodies.'” This gelatinous space spouts new