Mirage, 2020 - 2021, Acrylic, oil paint and collage on linen, 38 x 46 cm


A layer or successive layers of paint on a flat surface create a mirage effect depending on their degree of transparency, and thus the painting presents itself as some kind of illusion, no matter how literal or concrete I try to make it, even a solid color is enigmatic, revealing and holding back at the same time. The word Mirage comes from the Latin Mirare meaning to look or gaze, in a transitive sense, at something as an object. From Latin the word passes to French where it becomes se mirer - to be reflected, in the reflexive sense, and so in English we have the noun mirror which is also a verb. In Spanish the verb to look is Mirar. In Latin there is also the word mirus meaning wonderful or astonishing and mirari – to marvel or wonder at. The word miracle has its roots here too - an object of wonder or a wonderous work of God. Of course, Mirage is suggestive of something we can see but which has a delusional quality or delusive seeming. Something not really there or a mere reflection. So, here we are in the realm of what we can see as being delusional or uncertain, whilst at the same time something of wonder which can astonish or even present magical properties.

Everything worthwhile takes time to become what it is, and everything futile too. Even what is fleeting needs time to be absorbed, to be grasped by our senses and held in our mind for as long as possible before it fades into nothingness. Physics is oblivious to the discoveries of idle contemplation. The pleasure and wonder derived from such reflections and looking is not a concern of pure science. That we have to endure duration for example is a non-issue for a system of thought that even postulates the possibility of time not existing at all. Our bodies and consciousness feel and know it nonetheless.

Every morning I rummage in the right-hand pocket of my trousers for the key I push into the lock of my studio door, I turn it three times, the third one needing a fraction more effort until I hear the click and the door suddenly gives way as it opens and the familiar cool air infused with a sweet, woody, oily aroma greets me. Every atom and subatomic particle is dancing in the light and energized in the abyss of a logic that is beyond our comprehension.

What makes sense until we have felt it? Even concepts and ideas need to be felt, until the hairs are made to stand on end on the back of our necks or goose bumps are spawned on our forearms, nothing has been truly thought. Death is just an idea until we really feel it, not just the death of others but the overwhelming fact of our own disappearance, of not being conscious anymore of anything forever. When I was eleven years old I felt it from the tips of my toes to the top of my head, the dread made me shiver but it was exhilaration too. Nothing was the same after that. I knew something was hiding behind everything yet revealing itself at the same time.

So, here I am, painting. I look, I set off with my eyes, the mirage comes into being, the madness of the morning, and when I’m lost, I close my eyes and feel my way with my body and hands amongst the godless sacredness of things.


© Patrick Michael Fitzgerald, 2022