Friday, July 18, 2008


In my last BLOG I wrote about the invitation to be the guest speaker at the University of Queensland's
graduation ceremony for the Faculties of Arts, and Behavioural and Social Sciences. Well, it happened on Wednesday night and I am very happy with how it went. I was very honoured to have been asked and tried to give a speech which reflected my passion as an artist, but also giving a glimpse into how my art practice feeds my intellectual interests, and conversely how my intellectual interests and academic studies inform my art. I chose to speak about one artist's tool, and that is perspective. What I like about perspective is that it can also be a metaphor for how we view ourselves and others, and in this sense can be spatial and temporal with each kind of distance being close or far.
I went into a very brief timeline of the history of perspective ie: as a tool to give a 3 d impression on a 2d surface. What interests me is that the history of perspective reflects the growing understanding science and exploration gave of mankind's place on earth. I believe art, and its history, reflects this at the same time, but not as obviously so, being an affective agent albeit not always or necessarily a deliberate one.
I also believe that conversation triggered by art can stimulate people to open up to each other sharing dreams, hopes, fears and despair. I certainly experienced this when I exhibited at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation in 2005. I have previously written about these wonderful experiences talking with people who came to see my show. I realised that the agendaless, but not directionless, quality of these conversations enabled me and my viewers to see each other from different perspectives, opening up a space of shared compassion and hope, plus a realisation that we were more fundamentally similar than different. This agendaless, but not directionless quality of conversation triggered by art, I believe may just hold clues to new ways of communication ....and possibly new pathways to peace on earth.
In my speech I talked about academic study and degrees being one aspect of a person's personal perspective tool kit. I suggested that imagination, inspiration, flexibiity, judgement and experience enable a person to create both literal and metaphoric perspective, and that coupling these attributes with the skills gained in academic study, they give a person a powerful tool to view themselves and others... with hopefully recognising the compassionate qualities or potential of such an ability.
I made reference to the fact that artists once they have learnt rules of any kind, enjoy breaking or manipulating them. When an artist discards the rules of perspective they basically rely on their eye. As Vasari wrote of Michelangelo, 'He held his compass, that is his judgement, in his eyes not his hands'. I suggested that an artist's process is one of continual critical assessment and imagination. From the very first issue, which is the blank canvas, an artist's mind is working. However, a canvas is never blank because, in my case anyway, my imagination paints many images on its surface well before I decide how to make the first mark. Once this mark is made it is a dance of critical assessment, chance, controlled accidents, obsessional detail and constant questioning and problem solving.
But, I suggested that the artist's eye is not just the eye of eye ball and pupil, but the mind's eye too. So, when I or any artist, move back and forth from our work examining it at close and far distance we are making decisions based on what our seeing eye thinks looks good, and what our mind's eye wants to achieve in terms of meaning, message, essence and/or aura.
So, like an artist imagining before they make that first mark, we all have dreams about how our lives might be, but it is action which makes that first mark. Be like an artist and keep your eye on the immediate surrounds and seeable horizon, but your mind's eye beyond the horizon [remembering it may not necessarily be in front of you!]. This comment in brackets referred to my description of my own work where I play with perspective so that a viewer may feel as if they are at many points of view at the one time eg: in front , behind, inside, above and below etc.
So, that's a brief outline of my talk. The painting above plays with perspective because it could appear to be an aerial view at the same time as being inside, or in front of a landscape with hills and sky. It is not until you get close to this painting that the viewer realises it is created with thousands of $ signs. From a distance this is not evident. I will talk more about this work in a future post.
Earth For Sale 120 x 160 cm oil on linen

1 comment:

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