mardi 25 septembre 2012

A gentle plea for chaos.

light rain, wind and sun. oil on paper. 150x150cms.

Because that is how it seems to be. The state of chaos out of which one tries to construct order. Yet in the midst of this is something that I for one need to recognise: I have been thinking about what painting is and does (I have touched upon this before) and, if I can narrow it down to landscape based painting, what Kenneth Clarke speculated upon in his comments on the future (then 1947) of landscape painting.
"Can we escape from our fears by creating once again the image of an enclosed garden? It is a possible way of life: is it a possible basis for art?" He concludes that it is not: that Science has taught us that the idea of the enclosed garden of the fifteenth century, based upon a living idea of a friendly and harmonious nature is not the case and that nature is the reverse and that we shall not recover our confidence in her until we have learnt a great deal more.
 So can we find a more imaginative approach and discover a new sense of unity with the world? Some biologists argue that there is hope, E.O.Wilson is one, and I am reading The Origins of Virtue, by Matt Ridley for another view but Wilson describes a dilemma as "the machine in the garden": The natural world is the refuge of the spirit, remote, static, richer even than human imagination. But we cannot exist in this paradise without the machine which tears it apart. For him, the role of science, like of art, is to blend exact imagery with more distant meaning and the unique province of the artist is to offer images which represent a reparation in the spiritual realm. So out of the chaos that we might begin with in the process of painting, the myriad problems of looking, editing, contemplating comes a reordering and an understanding of what it is that we can extract and develop.

dimanche 9 septembre 2012

Painting what you see ?

I am always looking out of the window - which got me into trouble at school -trying to make sense of what I am seeing. The scene is always shifting and the act of drawing and painting is often about trying to pin down this movement. A bodily shift forwards or backward alters everything. Somewhere in the process of looking and fixing a decision is made consciously or not about what the interaction with seeing and doing is about. If one decides that one wants to set down what one sees a decision must be made as to how. The complication for me is in the what. What is it? a drawing? what is that? A painting? There is no comfort in the definition of the two.

ink, emulsion on paper. 96x57 cms.

oil on wood panel, 50x50cms.

I have been looking out  at the space framed by the window: light changes, there is movement, I move. There are no plumb lines and no marks on the floor or upon the glass (although that might help) and I am not entirely sure of what it is that I am seeing or where it is. Sometimes objects appear different: their size, density and colour changes as I work through a period of time. Is this painting what one sees?