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Gigantic statue given by France to the United States as a symbol of freedom

Just as Palimpsest displays a painterly field in which vision appears to be “scraped again” to reveal the absent presences of what came before, the canvas also echoes what never came to be. Like the shifting light through the lace curtain, the emergent vision is the obverse of what is seen: ascending from the traces of its own erasure, the fragmented images embody the imprint of what was always, and never, left behind. In Language, Eros, Being, Wolfson similarly comments on the notion of the palimpsest in the natural world when he observes that “we can speak hyperliterally of the cosmos as the book of nature, that is, nature as the palimpsest on which the erasure of the ineffable is erased in the inscripted traces of



what appears, apparently, as real.”3 Threading through the chiasmic loops of the palimpsest, the viewer is left gazing at the presence of absence through an erasure that is the sign of its own creation.

As this suggests, the complex visual dynamics displayed within this physically diminutive yet conceptually powerful painting are profoundly apophatic, as writing and unwriting, painting and unpainting, are figured not as oppositional states but as distinctive aspects of a singular form of creative expression. In the ambivalent mark-making that comprises Wolfson’s painterly facture, the removal of pigment enables a revelation of the underlying traces of what came before, which subsequently reveal themselves as formative aspects of what is (not). Thus resonating with alchemical and kabbalistic symbolism, Palimpsest encodes the mystery of unmarking in the visible language of the mark.

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