Wednesday, January 20, 2010


 Frisson Oil on linen 85 x 147 cm 2009/10

My exhibition in March is called 'Frisson'. The meaning of frisson...a a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill. [ORIGIN French. Source-Oxford Dictionary]

It is such a great word. Think of the pleasure in capturing the moment when you meet someone whose attraction to you causes sudden gut tightening feelings of excitement, fear and thrill. This private yet sensual, earthy, tingly and anticipatory experience is a ‘frisson’. It is full of potential and it can be both scary and exciting! can be replayed over and over in our imaginations as we fall into the romance of the situation. Our imaginations allow us to repeat the experience.

I sense that 'Ah Ah' moments are small frissons because the 'Ah Ah' is felt in the gut, heart and the head. The world shifts a little as the 'Ah Ah' becomes both a physical and an emotional experience. I'd like to suggest that the potential is the change which may occur if new realisations are acted upon. This could be physical action or new ways of thinking, but both leading to change over time.

In a previous post I said I would write an open ended recipe for a Frisson. I never follow recipes when I cook, so that's why my Frisson recipe will be open ended. I don't follow recipes for many reasons, including not liking restrictions, not having the right ingredients in my cupboard or that weevils have attacked my cupboard contents, to expired use-by-dates... You guessed it, I am not an avid cook, much to the suffering of my family.

So, to start this Frisson:
  • A large cup of excitement
  • A small shell of fear

  • A tank of anticipation

  • A thrill of potential

  • A quiver of dread

  • A stirring of eros

  • A sentient dose of sensuality

  • A pinch of gut wrenching

  • A nano-second of a missed heart beat

  • A 'Ah Ah' moment

  • A sweep of tingles

In my previous post 'LOVE' I wrote about some thoughts I had about art and its potential to change our brain maps. I wrote this post after reading Dr. Norman Doidge's marvellous book 'The Brain That Changes Itself'. I am re-reading the book because it is so fascinating.

So, if looking at a painting causes an 'Ah Ah' moment or a frisson, maybe this is a clue that art does have the potential to precipitate change, because frissons and 'Ah Ahs' are felt in the body, heart and mind. Even after seeing the painting, a person can keep thinking about it, replaying the first sighting in their imaginations. This is why some people re-visit their institutional galleries to see their favourite paintings again and again. It is much more than an intellectual or entertainment choice. The replay is a repetition, which must affect the brain and induce the firing of synapses and the release of chemicals. Hopefully, this is why people might buy a painting too...???

My middle daughter saw 'The Resurrection' by Tinteretto at the Queensland Art Gallery when she was just under 3 years old. I could not get her to move and on each subsequent visit to the gallery [up until the dreadful teens arrived] she would make her way the painting to sit and ponder. And...the many questions. I can tell you she not only had her brain working, but mine too. Answering some of the questions stretched me too, because the probed far beyond any art history I knew!

If art can cause change... it can also cause or assist the maintenance of prevailing patterns eg: the dominance of negativity and worst case scenarios which humankind seems drawn to in the general media and superficial entertainment and celebrity.

BUT, we do have 'free will' and thus choice! Maybe these are two more ingredients to add to my Frisson recipe!


My entry 'Elemental' for the Stanthorpe Art Prize has been pre-selected for the award which is announced on Feb 26th. The selector/judge is John McDonald [Art Critic Sydney Morning Herald and author of Art of Australia Vol 1]


Audubon Ron said...

I'm sure your exhibition will be great. Wish I was there to see it.

moneythoughts said...

Congratulations Kathryn on having your painting selected. Good luck.

Too bad the gallery can't webcast the opening, boy wouldn't that be something to watch on our computers.