A painting that portrays koi fish swimming in a pond has lots of possible meanings — particularly for whoever believes (as I do) that the actual fish mean something. But when an artist like me is working on such a theme, and there are many different versions of these fish, what do the differences between one version and another offer in the way of meaning?
Monet had the hay stacks, the water lilies; he studied the changing light from a single vantage point. I study the changing patterns of the fish as they swim. When I deliberately move a fish from here to there because the change seems like it would make the image hold together better, then I am making the fish swim in new patterns. Rather than watching the fish swim, I am moving the fish myself.
Different versions, different patterns portray slices of time. A camera stops the light and a transient moment of a koi dance appears, not otherwise visible to the eye. When I move drawn fish around, tweaking the frozen captured dance to suit my purpose, that’s fiction. But it means something to me. No longer the visual architecture of fish swimming in their watery herd, it’s a floor plan of my mind’s desire.
It’s koi math, koi logic. Or that’s what I tell myself anyway.