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I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some thoughts from an exhibition

…art objects are lures attracting certain kinds of spirits and they’re containers for that spirit. Thomas Moore The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life

When I first read these words, they resonated strongly with me as a description of what my art work is about. In the creation of an art work by letting go of the rational controlling mind and allowing the soul and heart to act through my hands, I am creating a temenos, an in-dwelling place for a specific spirit. I issue an invitation to the spirit, hoping that my poor work will find favour.
Thomas Moore again: Art can be merely aesthetically pleasing, philosophically meaningful, and personally expressive, or it can have the special power to evoke and transmit a particular spirit to those who come into contact with it.

I know when I come into contact with a work of art that has this special power. Firstly it has a compelling power. This is a subtle thing. Very few of the works of art that are like this rely on shock (in fact, I can’t think of one). But, there is something intriguing about the work that draws me in and holds me there. Next, there is some mystery about the work that requires me to look beyond the surface, to engage with the work imaginatively.

Dorothea Tanning: My work is about the enigmatic; it’s about leaving the door open to imagination. You see enigma is a very healthy thing, because it encourages the viewer to look beyond the obvious and the commonplace. (From The Artist Observed by John Gruen).
Lastly I leave the art work with my experience of life deepened and broadened by the encounter with the mysterious spirit who has taken up residence within the art work.
This is where I part company with a lot of contemporary art. To me, much of it seems to be without soul or spirit–sometimes clever, sometimes intellectually engaging, sometimes shocking and sometimes all three and just plain silly as well. Rarely do I find something that hints at a deeper mystery.
So it was with fairly low expectations that I went to visit the exhibition Contemporary Encounters at the National Gallery Victoria’s Ian Potter Centre (on until 9 Jan 2011).( what’s on> Exhibitions – current > Contemporary Encounters).
In spite of the spirited description of the exhibition:
Reflecting on the often confounding nature of human existence and the complex cultural, artistic, social and political mores of our times, contemporary artists are at the vanguard of current thought and inquiry. In challenging and compelling ways Contemporary encounters presents a broad spectrum of artists working in a diverse range of media including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, prints and drawings, video and multimedia. Works collide, repel, fuse and coalesce, revealing each artist’s unique engagement with the prevailing issues of contemporary life and artistic practice. Poetic, experimental, enigmatic, and sometimes ordinary, each work resonates in unexpected ways for contemporary audiences.

Given previous experience, I was expecting less poetic and enigmatic and more experimental and ordinary.
At first it looked like my expectations were going to be met, until I turned a corner, and there, whispering at my elbow was a work by John Wolseley ( ). I ignored the whisper and charged around another corner (perverse, I know, but you need to experience the layout of the exhibition space to understand that it is made up of alcoves and corners and recesses …not quite labyrinthine, but near enough). Further poking about, confirmed my initial expectations, so I sidled up to the Wolsley to make an acquaintance and became entranced with his meanderings and wanderings.

Rare and unexpected sightings of the Embroidered Merops and the Spinifex Grasswren

Others may find their spirit in other works in the Exhibition, for I may be blind and deaf to the spirirts that reside in other works. Perhaps, at the time I was too deep within my own darkness to be receptive to the works of Aida Tomescu:

and needed the more gentle approach of John Wolsley , in his words “an expression of the more meditative gentle areas of the subconscious” (quoted in John Wolseley Landmarks by Sasha Grishin).

1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing your thoughts and others' words. i appreciated this tonight.