The following paintings are from a series called Ephemera. This series works through a number of ideas for sculptures in clear sheet acrylic that I may or may not have intended to be developed in three dimensions at some time in the future. The palette tried to conform to the colours available in sheet acrylic. For instance, Winter Song was a study for a hanging transparent sheet acrylic sculpture in three primary colours in a winter landscape.
The series uses an unrestricted palette which may have been a reaction against the preceding ten years of primarily black and white illustrations.This series was created during a fairly heady period of my life when I was doing a lot of abstract thinking and grappling with weighty philosophical questions.
Antediluvian Celestial Geometry plays with the idea that, if an idea, such as that of a shape, can exist in the mind, it must exist in the real world and if an idea for a shape exists now, it must have existed forever. The cloudy, spatial theme is suggestive of star clusters, the birth of creation, creativity.
Though actual fabrication will necessitate adherence to the laws of physics, this series ignores rules regarding the play of lights and shadows, perspective and representation of forms.
What Time it Really Is, is another next world scenario where large explosive physical forms are moving at light speed through various dimensions while interacting with smaller, more one-dimensional forms. The questions in mind at the time were: “is this going on all around us? Does anybody really know? Are we merely conditioned to accept visual rules?”
These paintings are “what-ifs”. What if a clear acrylic form could move through space? What if it could kinetically change its form?
Every day, our bodies go through transformations between states of energy and states of matter. As we age, the matter begins to break down until finally we are ready to become an energy field or spirit. But if we concentrate on the needs of self, rather than persona, we do not exhibit expected behaviours and our behaviour becomes increasingly unbecoming.
As a subtext, the series explores the life of the mind, body and spirit. For instance, “Debate with Descarte”, is a visual argument with the 17th Century philosopher who formalized the mind/body dichotomy and championed the superiority of mental over physical processes. It contrasts cloudy, wavering thoughts and hard physical forms. Humans have always conceived of mind as emanating from above; as descending from the clouds and therefore superior to the earthly forms below. Several centuries after Descarte, we do well to question the superiority of the human mind over the works of creation.
Both Sides of Life, asks “what if life could be summed up as a clear, transparent, colourless shape?” Is this more or less what is left over after our carbon-based physical form oxidizes?” Our physical form makes it difficult to see the rich flow of colour and energy going on around, through, in front of and behind us. We can act a lens through which ideas and energy flow or a lens cap.
The series also included studies for sculptures combining hardware such as metal rods, chains & sheet metal with transparent clear sheet acrylic. I was especially interested in the images of chains that suggest supporting, bonding & connecting as well as binding & enslaving.
The series departed from studies for what could theoretically be fabricated in sheet acrylic and also simply explored visual ideas the vocabulary of forms that had evolved.
Passions in Passing, below, was influenced by the loss of my dear aunt, the painter Ione McIntyre. She was an artistic inspiration as well as a goad, demanding to know why I was studying the history of art in university instead of making art, which she knew was what I really wanted. I was with her when she died and it was my first experience of death. Witnessing the death of a loved one is a transformative experience underscoring the ephemeral and transitory nature of life. It makes one aware that we all go around in a state of oblivion, ignoring the fundamental fact that our days are numbered and livingour lives as though we have an eternity to wallow in self-delusions.
Passions was the clearest reference to this paradox and raises the issue of humans as the only life form with a spirit. My aunt would certainly not have thought so and would have fully expected to see her dear cats on the other side.
Celebration captures the manic, joyous energy that painting imparts. It is a celebration of life energy zooming toward a known end point. The fact that there is an end point gives life its beauty and richness.
Coming Through, is another expression of the need to continually re-invent oneself as an artist. There is no form that can define without getting in the way, so there is a need to break down rigid self-images and break through to new awareness of self.