Precious Kofi/Russell Carmony: Autobiography of Silence
Updated: Oct 12
Journey to the Borderlands:
an essay collaboration in paintings and words
Precious Kofi. The Veil. Acrylic on canvas. 2021.
“Tell me what you see.” Precious Kofi doesn't have to voice an invitation for emersion into her paintings. The color streams on her canvases open to the inevitability of a call and response. Tell chants an invocation to story, the chance to transmit the eye's epics, sonnets and symphonies. Shadowing the entreaty to engage are the questions she bypasses: What do you see? What do you think? Do fails to raise sufficient expression, stiffens to inaction the interaction with the paintings or worse, elicits uninspired opinion.
What can be told if a tale is even possible? Abstraction affirms and memorializes the inner self, paints the spirit and the star clusters. Color in a formless location, or in formation, will partner imagination and psychology, give reality to dream, apparition or emotion, deliver the fantastical to the river or the redwood.
I see a language in colors.
Color holds no narrative. What happens in the everlasting stillness of imagination is a question forever being reborn in artistic engagement. Is speaking to me through color, therefore, the entry point to the language essential in accessing the plotless autobiography of silence?
My question reads as an exploration or an action, hopefully both.
I travel through Kofi blues and greens, slide into shrewd reds and burgundy dusks, opaque combinations mingled with all grays of life on a leaf's edge facing the infinite of black and night storms. Step then into the psyches and light streams of color and follow the painted roads.
Precious Kofi. Late Night and Early Mornings. Acrylic on canvas. 2021.
I, the self-identified forest and mountain person, drift away into the green. The solitude and solace in the color of remembrance open the senses to what the wind carries, songs in the cathedral of leaves, and the echoing of streams. Green harmonizes the memories of birds, translates vibrations between the root and sky.
The language of green can tell a personal history of interaction with abstraction. The self, the I and the me, formed in the entrance to abstraction. It was quite a journey. Recognition of the passageway and emptying into the domains of the spiritual roiled in the mind until molding into the thoughtword. The duende and the bari always resonated through abstraction as lifebeats crawling up into heartbeats. Contemplation of abstraction roamed upon currents for a long time until finding a shore of clarity in imaginative thought.
I don’t give as much truck as others might to an artist’s groove away from the canvas. The artist green is transcendent. The expressions of green allow for dialogue with the artist and image-object. What matters becomes the walk into the forest of your painter’s green. Your luhlaza. Your Table Mountain shade green. The break-of-morning and slip-to-night slivers of green. The green ridge plunging into day blue and night shadow blue, the Southern Cross candle-lighting the sky.
Precious Kofi. Soul Conversations. Acrylic on canvas. 2021.
Blue hums in waves at the center of the great silence. It sources the wellspring. In blue, the natural color of motion, what I can tell I see and what meaning or expression arises is a revealing, but is there revolution also? Blue moves in the background and foreground and the center of images while existing in countless positions at once, flowing in endless cycles. What is seen and what is wondered converge in the conversations between the wing and storm, mountain and cloud, dragon and whirlwind.
The circles linking sea and sky open to something being born or devoured, allowing for either possibility. Art pieces with a sense of motion pull with an inescapable allure. The clear blue of sky sits in the presence of an object or image and the simple being of myself outside of explanations or descriptions.
Is blue what wraps inner space, enfolds light itself, ensures reflections illuminate a color spectrum present in a field of still waters? Within floating colors and energetic gesture, I feel the waves lunge upon the Western Cape, coves hug breezes along the Costa Brava, and rocks glimmer in Puerto Rican sands. The motion of blue carries the wanderer to the point of crossing, where the furthest reaches can be accessed.
III. The Veil
Precious Kofi. Organic. Acrylic on canvas. 2021.
The elementals gather as if drawn by music and the veil spreads forth. The blues once again retreat into the shade, releasing the canvas to the red of wine, blood, amaranth, and fire. The veil serves as hint, bridge or portal to the regions of formation. What color distinguishes between invitation and warning, or entrance and restriction. What can be seen in a glance, an approximation, a skewed focus leading to a wonderment about both beauty and beast. What creatures or beings pass by the threshold of the veil? Is it a wolf...owl...minotaur…inner demon…dark emotion… gargoyle to keep the monsters at bay?
The veil conjures and frames the crossing between worlds, regions of the mind, quantum leaps. Wisdom surely exists in knowing how to hold obscurity and revelation in the palm of a single hand. To speak in the language of colors pierces the veil of knowing in how to paint mist, or walls of rain, or a doorway in the night.
IV. The Borderlands
Precious Kofi. Wild Woman. Acrylic on canvas. 2021.
I have told what I see with no beginning, middle, or end, and so we arrive in the borderlands, the space between abstraction and figuration. In this country of all lands the imagination might be at its most free. The voice sings soundlessly and silence plays concertos. The natural state of color manifests in the no-form of snowfall, shoreline, glacier, volcano, or pine forest.
I can tell you I see chaos form and form embrace chaos. Void and vacuum dance with the pattern, possibility and infinity. A swirl will spiral and hold still in evasiveness and transparency. For those who take up residence in the borderlands, find a hearth for the brush, the pen, the piano key and send gifts back through the veils.
Knowing I live in the borderlands, colors allow a naming for this realm. An ownership setting of its non-place. An understanding of home. When imagination wanders the trails of the lost or falls asleep, it can be found or revived. “Tell me what you see.” Here is my answer: The autobiography of silence told in the language of colors leading into the borderlands. Here is my action: speak blue, green, purple, black.
About the Authors: Precious Kofi is a contemporary artist born and raised in South Africa. Her career background is in television producing and acting. Recently her artwork has shown at the Museum of Boulder, Denver's Ink Lounge and Refuge Art gallery.
Russell Carmony is a fiction and essay writer from New York City. His work has appeared in The Painted Bride Quarterly, Eclectica Magazine, OpenDemocracy.net, and The Wild Roof Journal.