What is the truth?


“Art does not copy the visible, it makes it visible.”
Paul Klee

Seeing is a magical act, when you see it, we both make sense of it and have feelings. We rely on the senses to do our daily work and do not doubt them, but in more important matters—for example, in philosophy—the senses should not be questioned and relied upon alone. Because while we provide reality with the senses, we also shape it. The senses can distort reality due to the involvement of other ways of learning (reason, belief, language…). Also, since we do not only sense but also interpret the senses, we cannot rely on the senses alone, just as we cannot rely on any means of acquiring knowledge. This point gets even more complicated with philosophy.

When it comes to art, the eyes not only see but also listen. The gaze allows not only to see but also to touch. To touch does not mean to touch, but to penetrate, to wander in. The whole point is that he can (re)learn to see. And the whole point is also to forget (that you are used to seeing). Every time the artist takes over his work, he experiences this, reinterprets it, just like Cezanne and Ayvazovski seeing different things while looking at the sea.

What is the truth in Cezanne, who philosophizes in the language of painting and transfers it to the vision-reality connection tables? illustrated the question.

"To embody, to investigate, to objectify, to prove, that is, 'Objectivity': It means the imposition of a world on us, in which the truth is captured and all kinds of hidden complicity and illusions are eliminated”.

I don't believe there is such a thing as subjectivity, just as there is no such thing as objectivity. We think that we are always face to face with reality. However, this is just an illusion, unless it is an illusion accepted and normalized by the majority. Imagine an unconscious person, there is no question of perceiving and making sense of the world, but we move on to the act of making sense and interpreting thanks to consciousness. Thanks to consciousness, we can revive it in our minds and understand it to the extent of our ability. This re-enactment and thinking that impressions are determined by external objects is nothing but a mental reenactment.

When Cezanne and the images he uses are examined, we see how he perceives reality. The concept of image is created by the desire to reflect reality, it has to be real and perfect, so images become synthetic and concrete and become objectified by taking the place of things. It's like the "apple" image that comes to life in everyone's eyes. The image of the "apple" in anyone's mind is not blurred, shaky, or coincidental.

What we capture in Cézanne's paintings is precisely those blurs, vibrations, imperfections and illusions that are sought to be lost in both philosophy and art. However, it is not possible for the world to be perfect for the human being who looks from the inside, not from the outside. There are always objects that fall outside my visual field. To see is, in a sense, to participate in phenomena that are visible with my body. For this reason, I cannot look at the world as if I were watching a painting. This means that a holistic view and at the same time a holistic reality and objectivity are not possible. In terms of frontal or photographic perspective, we can recall Renaissance perspectivism. Everything is more perfect than it should be.

Paul Cézanne – Sainte-Victoire

What Cézanne tries to describe in his paintings is this state of the world before it was shaped by reason and judgment. In reality, every time we blink our eyes while looking at an object, the world darkens, vibrates, and is soon rebuilt. And in reality, we cannot see each of the gigantic mountains as well as the lake, trees and houses in front of it all at once, as in the landscape paintings we are all accustomed to. To see all of these, we have to turn our bodies towards them in turn, touch them with our gaze, walk through them.

Since the perception is always established by the perception of the figure on a floor, it is not possible to see the whole composition clearly as in these paintings. There are always objects in the background that remain blurry, and they only become clear when we point our gaze at them. Therefore, what we actually call reality is always dynamic and temporal. Because such paintings protect the claim of reflecting the world perfectly according to the principle of perspectivism. However, the perception realized by the body's ability to move is not like this in reality. Because the world is a mass without voids; it is a system of colors on which perspective is withdrawn, outlines, angles, and curves are inscribed like lines of power; The spatial structure vibrates as it takes shape. Cézanne is after these vibrations. Because the appearance of objects is not independent of this.

Merleau-Ponty,  Cézanne's Doubt In his book, “There is order, the object that organizes itself before our eyes, in the act of appearing in Cézanne's paintings.” Therefore, objects do not have fixed outlines. Cézanne's obsession with vibrating lines stems from his unwillingness to give objects a fixed starting and ending point. Perspectivism uses the line to delimit it, as if it were a property of the object. However, Cézanne did not set sharp limits in order not to separate the object from the space surrounding it. For this reason, Cézanne always painted the contours that Impressionism limited to cold earth colors with vivid blues. “Impressionist painting uses green in the background to achieve the brightness of the contrast of objects in nature. This refutes the color relationship that actually occurs.” The clever application of warm and cool colors to the canvas rather than strong tonal contrasts is one of the ways Cézanne achieves his goal. He explains this by saying, "I'm just trying to create perspective with color."

This is exactly the point that Cézanne draws attention to in his seemingly crooked, shaky lines. He did not aim to depict objects in perfect forms or to make his works beautiful. In a letter to his son, 'as rich a harmony as possible and the unity between man and nature' He said that he meant to create… He aims to instill a timeless quality into his work by not focusing on its beauties.

Merleau-Ponty speaks of the primordial perception of the lived object. In this primordial perception, which lies at the basis of all cultural, scientific or philosophical productions, we witness the spontaneous organization of things, the savage or vulgar Being (l'être sauvage) as MerleauPonty puts it, making the visible visible, which is not the result of conceptual thought. We access Being in this silent and implicit experience on which all culture, judgments, and the anonymity of our individual being are built. What Cézanne wants to portray with each brushstroke is the Rough Being, which is the object of this primordial experience before any judgment and conceptualization. Cézanne thinks that in order for nature to be recorded in the artist's mind, all prejudices of the painter must remain silent. The painter no longer wants to know what is in front of him, he just contemplates it. Everything that comes into view is primarily embedded in the fabric of color, which is outside the realm of thought. Just like Merleau-Ponty, Cézanne wants to make visible the Rough Being, the Logos of the natural world, where no distinction has yet been made between sensation and reflection or the sensible and the sensing self. Painter of the natural world LogosHe is the one who experiences it.

Art does not present nature as something that transcends human life; work of art, aesthetic world Logosthe originary nature of human life, the natural world LogosIt presents in it. Seen in this way, art is the kind of reduction Husserl calls it. Cézanne also wants to describe this primeval world, as Merleau-Ponty or Husserl said. As Hussel points out in his fifth meditation for the primeval world Merleau-Ponty “Other is what remains when we set aside all constitutive effects of intentionality directly or indirectly associated with subjectivity.” The primeval world is the visible world. Perception takes us to the nascent Logos. Merleau-Ponty in his book Eye and Spirit; There is a Logos at birth in this “pre-reflexive life.” “The common point of the painter and the philosopher is to reach the truth of the Crude Being.” “This pre-human gaze is emblematic of that of the painter.” “The painter is one, the only person who has the right to look at everything without any obligation to evaluate.

In the perception of seeing and being visible, from which we set out on the funeral and its pictures, we can ask what we have achieved from this strange cohesion of the seer and the visible. When a certain visible, a certain touch, turns to all the visible, all the touch of which it is a part, vision and touch take place, or a Visibility, a Touchable in itself, is created when it suddenly finds itself surrounded by them or through its relations with itself. They belong neither to the body nor to the world as phenomena, just as the eternal image is formed in two mirrors placed opposite each other and the image does not belong to either mirror. Because each reacts to the other, a couple is formed that is more real than both. Since the seer is captured in what he sees, the seer is still himself.

For Merleau-Ponty, the seeing and the visible become two extensions of one and the same skin. Seeing can no longer be thought of as watching a picture from the opposite side, as it is to join the flesh of things with our own flesh and to be surrounded by a general Visibility. Therefore, skin ontology shows the intertwining of man and the world. Since Merleau-Ponty's emphasis on the idea that the painter and the depicted can no longer be separated from each other means that there is no border between the two, there is a reversibility of the visible and the seer. The body is a visible seeing from the middle of the visible world. The seer and the seen intersect with each other in Visibility, which Merleau-Ponty uses not in the sense that the seer and the seen completely overlap with each other, but in the sense that they violate their boundaries. It is precisely the intertwining of these boundaries that makes reversibility possible. This intertwining is a necessary consequence of the body being made of the same fabric as the world. The body joins the Raw Being through its skin. The boundaries of being and human are intertwined. “This is exactly what Valéry means when he says 'the painter adds his body'. By giving his body to the world, the painter transforms the world into painting. Line, as a sign of the painter's movement, is not a purely mechanical or technical element of the work of art. Every movement of the painter is a movement to join another dimension in the context of topological space. By passing into this other space, the painter comes to himself. This openness is openness to the voluntary nature, to the realm of activity and affectivity. It reveals the interplay between self and otherness, interiority and exteriority. Outsideness and interiority can no longer be thought of as completely disconnected from each other, as opposite concepts. There is no rift between the subject and the world.

The main issue that art, like philosophy, deals with is to describe the emergence of phenomena, to witness that the visible world is visible only in relation to the invisible, not to copy a perfected image of them. This is the way that art and philosophy come into contact with being.

With the hope that art and philosophy will take more place in our world creation...


Hodge, Susie. Cézanne. His Life and Works with 500 Images. Translated by Seda Yoruker. Istanbul: Türkiye İş Bankası Publications, 2013.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Eye and Spirit, Translated by Ahmet Soysal. Istanbul: Metis Publications, 2006.

"Cézanne's Suspicion". Translated by Mehmet Adam. cogito Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Issue: 88. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Publications, 2017. 45-63.

Glory, Emre. “Logos of the Aesthetic World”. The Skin of the World, Studies on Merleau-Ponty Philosophy. Prepared by Zeynep Direk. Istanbul: Metis Publications, 2017, 212-230.


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