Wednesday, June 02, 2010


From The Stillness Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

I am back in the studio properly now, after my break following FRISSON. The house smells of turps. I smell of turps. I call it my 'eau de turps' perfume. I spent this morning preparing the first layer of colour on 5 canvases. Lots of paint, turps and linseed oil! I also sat and stared at a 90 x 200 cm canvas which already has the background completed. I have so many ideas, I have to sift through each imagined image to 'test' to 'see' if it suits the long horizontal format, plus if I feel myself getting really excited about it. I've sketched and made notes to myself over the last 6 or so weeks and today I have been reading through my various art diaries to get a 'feel' for how I am going to proceed.

In the middle of all this activity I finished a work on paper [above] which I had started last week when I tentatively ventured into my room where I create my works on paper. I have to wait for the newly prepared canvases to dry, or partially dry, before I can splash some more paint around. Thus, finishing this work on paper helped me process some of my thoughts. I certainly don't want to lose my thoughts!!!

The painting above is called 'From The Stillness'. It depicts my imagined self inside a vortex. No, I am not unrelentingly caught up in a dizzying twirling and swirling, but rather, I am in the core of the vortex where I imagine stillness, yet unfathomable positive energy and unconditional love to exist. It is in the stillness that I imagine the presence of the divine, which I have symbolised with a white light that cascades over my body. This 'light' erupts from the vortex core into life, which is represented by my much loved transcultural-religious tree-of-life.

I have more images of vortex cores and erupting white light inside my head. Plus, I have images inside my head of elliptical galaxies, figures transforming into trees and much, much more. As each image appears in my imagination I know that they come from processes buried deep in my psyche and in time, which find their catalysts in wonder.

Now to some thoughts which are linked to all that I have already written above, but are broader in their perspective. Imagination is the superconductor of knowledge. Without imagination and wonder where would we be? Science, mathematics, philosophy...discovery of any kind is aided and driven by imagination and wonder. Yet, I sometimes think that people confuse imagination with fantasy. For me, the latter is more about wishful thinking and is prone to unhealthy distortion, pretense and superficiality. Oh, it can be fun, but it can also be dangerous as the imploded 'fantasy' of subprime loans and other crumbling edifices of the GFC have revealed. And, what about the 'fantasy' worlds created by leaders such as Mugabe, Hitler and others of their ilk?

I am reminded of J.K. Rowling's Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association
She says of imagination, Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared. She goes on to say,  I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

Maybe the 'wilfully unimaginative' are those prone to the artiface of fantasy? This makes one think about the role post-modernism has played [literally played!] in the artifice which the GFC has revealed and continues to reveal. I wrote a post in November 2008 about postmodenism and the implosion of financial markets and economies

All this makes one ponder upon art. It seems to me that fantasy may have crept into the visual lexicon, but at what cost? Fantasy can be arresting [momentarily], spectacular [as in being a spectacle], clever but not necessarily intelligent, seductive but not sensual, slapstick but not humourous, didactic [ie: not meaningful], interesting but not memorable...and so on. How can we tell when art is playing with fantasy or revelling in the superconducting depths of imagination and wonder?

J.K Rowling's statement about imagination being the vehicle by which we can empathise with others is pivotally important. It is the capacity to put oneself in another's shoes, bypassing gratuitous sympathy to plummet into the intimacy of shared compassion. It is the capacity to change perspective or even  to 'see' multiple perspectives simultaneously. Regular readers of this BLOG know of my intense interest in art's potential catalytic agency to stimulate new dance steps across the multiple perspectives which are revealed as we live locally in an increasingly globalised world. Compassion is paramount.

I highly recommend J.K. Rowlings speech which you can either read or watch @

Below is a picture of my 'studio' [garage] where I paint my large oil on linen paintings. You can see the first layer of colour on the 5 of the canvases I prepared this morning.


1 comment:

Audubon Ron said...

I love this one, From The Stillness. It has so much dimension and depth. The first thing I thought of was Fantasia. You;re probably too young to remember that movie.