Extract from: Being There
from: the essay Being There by Aidan Dunne
Joe Wilson’s work has always balanced on the cusp between two independent though not necessarily exclusive domains: the physical configurations of paint or print media, and the experiences of places to which these configurations correspond in some way or on some level. The places are usually located in the landscape, and the experiences relate to a heightened sense of being there. It’s worth noting that the question of being there seems to loom much larger for the artist than, as one might expect, the question of how it looks. He is by no means indifferent to the world of appearances, and there is certainly a relationship of resemblance between his work, on the level of imagery, and the environments it refers to, but it is only one issue among several.
It is useful to approach what he does in an experiential way. First of all there is his own experience of being in the landscape, of simply being there, or negotiating it, moving through it, alert to the press of myriad stimuli, from the mass of visual detail per se to other relevant sense impressions relating to temperature, rain, the give of the ground, the sound of water on rock...what amounts in all to a cumulative density of experience. Then there is the process of making the work, which is both a re-experiencing of something, with the help of memory prompted by visual clues in the form of photographs, drawings or even paint, and a new experience in itself, an engagement with materials that must, for the artist, be a process of discovery, a living engagement, if it is to yield something of value.
Aidan Dunne is the Art Critic of the Irish Times.