Saturday, August 22, 2009


Detail of as yet untitled painting I am currently working on.

Detail of as yet untitled painting I am currently working on.

The two images above are close-up details of the painting I am currently working on. This painting is a further investigation of my ideas which I explored in 'In the Garden of Eden' which was the subject of my BLOG post of August 5 . Again the tree-of-life and the tree-of-knowledge are pivotal motifs, but like 'In the Garden Of Eden' I have included Adam and Eve ,who for me, simply represent humankind. The crossing over of the two trees creates and reclaims the feminine symbol of the sacred Yoni which meaningfully implies the feminine within all.

In the new painting I have painted Adam asleep. In the bible story he was put into a sleep state to allow for the extraction of his rib to form Eve. Following is a quote from my August 5 BLOG post...."She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him." [Jamieson-Fausset Brown Bible Commentary] Eve eternally shares a part of Adam just as Adam also experiences the feminine. The absent part of his rib represents Eve's presence within. Absentia does not mean lack of inclusion. With these thoughts in mind culpability for the Temptation ascribed soley to Eve seems rather lame or perhaps opportunistic.

It has been suggested that the Bible story actually does not record Adam ever waking up, thus posing a very interesting proposition. In fact, is life an illusion or a dream? Are we Adam's dream into which we are propelled in order to sort out the big questions posed by the battle between good and evil [error]? This proposition opens up a myriad of questions which go to the core of existence...and not just in this human dimension. This is the power of myth.

This brings me to a very interesting post on the Elightenment Next BLOG The post includes an article called TRUE JIHAD by Elizabeth Debold. She suggests that the true jihad is, in fact, the battle of the ego with the spiritual potential within us all. I quote, 'The truer, greater meaning of jihad refers to the battle for the utter liberation of the spirit from the tyrannical nafs—the unconscious motivation in the human psyche that insists on separation and division. The nafs—or ego—is the ultimate terrorist, changing disguises with shape-shifting ease, scurrying within the labyrinth of the mind, setting off explosions of fear and rage, never quite visible until war has been declared and a warrant for its capture, dead or alive, has been issued.'

I have previously written on the BLOG about the role of myth. As time goes on I have an even great sense that misplacement of myth ,which I believe is largely a result of post modernism's slippery decline into narcissism and glorified pastiche, is a far greater loss than we may have realised. For me, myth is a conduit to the inner sanctums of the spiritual potential within us all. Myth will take people places that are undreamed or unimagined until they are awakened. And, upon awakening there is the potential for more discovery. Post modernism forces a sense of sitting outside with enticements to enter, but upon entry it slips away. This, of course is its arrogant subtefuge, because it knows that if discovered there is nothing there. Myth, on the other hand, beckons with its depth and confident potency. I have written about post modernism @

Debold, in her article True Jihad admits to the role of post modernism when she says, 'In my postmodern arrogance, I assumed that the great traditions lacked the sophistication of our modern psychological understanding. But, increasingly, I am coming to understand that it is our contemporary view that lacks depth because, so often, it blunts the sharpness of distinctions that give dignity to the human struggle.'

I am particularly interested in Debold's arguments about ego. I won't go into a broad discussion about it, but I will make some comments with reference to art/artists and ego. Readers of my BLOG would know that I have previously written about ego with reference to my experiences exhibiting in the Middle East and the conversations I had with people who came to my exhibitions from all over the region, Africa and Eastern Europe. As a result of these conversations I realised I do not complete my paintings. They are, in fact, completed by every conversation they stimulate. These conversations can be internally with oneself or with others. Thus, my paintings have the potential to have multiple completions. When I realised this I had to consciously let go of my ego, because I recognised that a part of me wanted to hold onto the meaning of my work. Yet, when I thought about it, each person I had had a conversation with drew more from my work than I had initially ascribed. In fact, by holding on I was a limiting factor. By letting go, I feel free and I know my work is free to do whatever its potential is.

What struck me was that the tree-of-life motif was the element which drew people into conversation with me. This transcultural/religious motif needed no explanation, yet I had used it in non-traditional ways. The willingness of people to share their dreams, hopes, ideas and sometimes despair with me was very humbling. Yet, it was really the power of one motif which opened up the commuication. This motif is intrinsic to many stories from across religions and cultures. This motif has helped my understand the importance of myth.

So, for me myth is timeless and eternal. Through myth we can find rich pathways to the inner sactums of our spiritual potential. If this is the case, then time seems inconsequential. And, as I have written before, if time does not exist then neither does distance and space. Maybe myth is a way to distance-less-ness where axiomatically there are no limits to Myth's capacity.


PS: I should finish my new painting in the next week.

PPS: This painting has been preselected for the $15,000 Manning Art prize announced 19 Sept


Fiona Kennedy-Altoft said...

love the recent works, they have been evolving and it is beautiful to see the change in the paintings

Fiona Kennedy-Altoft said...

love the recent works, they have been evolving and it is beautiful to see the change in the paintings

moneythoughts said...

I enjoyed reading your discussion of myth, and its place as you see it. I also like your latest painting as I have enjoyed all of your work.

Peoples have many stories in which they try to explain what they do not understand, or, what they can not know. But, what gets me is how fanatical they can get about their stories. Just as you observe that each of your paintings is completed by each of the many people that view it, so too can these myths be completed by the several people that read them. Unfortunately that is not the case, that is why there are so many struggles for power and control. If everyone was free to see what they can see in the written word, just as they are free to see in your pictures in the visual "word", then perhaps we could all have a more peaceful world.

Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox said...

Hi Fred,
I agree, people can get fanatical about their stories. I think this is where ego causes problems because some people insist on holding onto their meaning or interpretation as the best, safest, most interesting, most plausible etc etc. Whereas stories can have the potential to be conduits to all sorts of interpretations and inspirations which can change as life's experience impacts on us and we see with different perspectives. Imagination is also an important ingredient, and I am afraid that it is not given the significance it should...I see it crippled in school children for instance!

Ann said...

Love these works Kathryn. Interesting discourse too. I've also put you in my blog links. Ann.

FVP Sawyer said...

Hi Kathryn,
I love your work! You should make a calander! I love Earth spirits especially. Great stuff!