This is my good old friend Tag um Tag ist guter Tag as it approaches my work. Tag um Tag is the painting project by Peter Dreher I’ve written about here and here.

The work is ongoing, and currently comprises over four thousand near-identical paintings of the same glass of water against the same simple backdrop. The glass is framed identically on each canvas, and variation between paintings is restricted to subtle differences in light and colour that reflect the changing conditions of the studio.

Because it is an ongoing project, the work is continually both complete (all there is so far) and incomplete (there is more to come). This duality means that the point of creation remains present in the paintings as a continuous threat to the integrity of the work. The threat is double: that more paintings will be created, disrupting the present unity of the work; and that no more paintings will be created, disrupting the present continuity of the work. Thus the work is continually on the brink of disintegration, and only as long as it does not disintegrate can it continue reassert its presence. It is a work in the present continuous: it is working.

The work exists over time, and the whole corpus of paintings shifts whenever a new painting is added, but also shifts whenever none is added. Indeed, when the work is encountered in a gallery, the numbers scratched into each painting show that they are out of sequence, with the effect that no sequence of paintings is safe: each is continually the potential site of a new interruption should the next painting arrive. The work is a continuity of potential interruptions, constituted almost entirely by edges, to the extent that the edges silence the table glasses and supplant them as the subject matter of the paintings.

The painted table glasses are thus blocked from operating as images directly available to the gaze of the viewer standing before the canvas. As long as the repetition of the glass is unending, repetition itself mediates between viewer and image, leaving the painted glasses locked in private dialogue with one another.

The brutal completion of the work, perhaps at the death of the artist, will put an inevitable end to the threat of disintegration and lucidly identify each painting as the substance of itself, reconciling viewer and painting into a direct relationship of recognition.

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