Left hemisphere / mere words

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy paintings are like notes from the Unconscious, as I try to understand the experience of this sensual world.

 Being a psychiatrist, that work involves searching for the deeper narrative behind and below what my patients describe to me. Seeing it, feeling it, calling it by name and finally holding it long enough to work with the story. The same process is happening in my art practice.

Although my style has become more unbound, organic and sculptural over time, the underlying theme has always been a meditation on the felt experience of human being. The felt experience (as opposed to the analytical deconstruction of our lives) is what is both terrifying in it’s painful grandeur as well as electrifying in its promise of beauty and truth.

 Our lives are surface phenomena that suggest a deeper story and each painting seeks out the bedrock arc of a day, a week, a year as may be. Just as each session of psychotherapy seeks the resonances from the Deep of the human Unconscious. I gave up trying to completely separate my work as a psychiatrist and my work as a painter once I realised they involve a similar seeking after Depth. Truth. Presence.

The universal language of colour, figure and form coalesce into these blocks of Time called “paintings”, Time and Space apparently captured inside 4 lengths of wood and heavy layers of paint, accented with natural objects such as stones, bark and other detritus.

 Each painting has an emotional tone and a degree of conflict between chaos and order, just the same as each day provides a similar interplay of head and heart, bookended by dawn and dusk. “

technique

“My technique involves “hitting” the canvas and leaving it. Hit and run. Find a place to recuperate and rehydrate as my canvases are often large and I travel through many layers over days to weeks. I wear a gas mask and sweat it out. The music is probably on the strong side.

 I collaborate with the forces of perseverance and win over the better angels of our nature : experience, inspiration, freedom of action, daring, refusal to give up on a painting. I am a veteran of many failed campaigns in which the rubbish picture becomes the underlay of a memorable success.

My technique is “Get Out of Your Own Way”…….if you have an eye for colour and form, and you can turn down the volume of your L hemisphere  conceptual mind, the painting will emerge in its own way. This is the most enjoyable part for me….the suggestion of standing aside as something makes its mark on the canvas. Whether you call it the Unconscious, Nature, Spirit or a slice of the Narrative of my patient that day , the joy of painting is standing aside and seeing what has manifested. Its the antithesis of narcissistic self-absorption.”

dreams of trauma

I dream about the Trauma-Givers in the late morning just before waking sometimes. I am trying to escape them. These I interpret as archetypal malevolent figures that represent all the pain the world dishes up to us, especially the sensitive souls. A more sophisticated interpretation is that they also give us wisdom and experience as we move through trauma in a mindful, contemplative and active way. Sometimes you and I are the givers of trauma, even by accident.

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The Retreat

Having lived in the city all my life, and having experienced the archetypal cities of the world while travelling, I have found that my favourite creative space is one close to nature. I have even noticed how the work I do out of my city studio is different to that done in the Retreat House. My dream is to one day allow access to my Retreat House (under some kind of arrangement) to emerging artists. There is something in the peace and the sounds of nature especially as the sun sets or as the sun rises, that is great for the creative soul.

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The Final Wash(up)

This series of paintings is quite personal to me. Without overstating it, a friend of mine has needed multiple surgeries following a hit and run crime against him while riding his bike to work one morning. I have watched him from the first days in hospital (just out of ICU) all the way to watching him work out despite pain.

So, the experience has raised again the nature of illness and recovery as a theme for me. Other related themes include pain as a barrier, the role of the will, family dynamics around a near death experience and the reality of life with the remnants of an injury.

As an artist, all I can do is to paint and draw etc. I have done that. What I wanted to point out is that it’s the process of recovering most visible to the eye. Thus, the painting was a process…washed and re-washed until it finally settled. What is at the end of a big-hearted determination to recover is….a bigger heart. Green in my palette is the healing colour too.

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concepts of art

This is the way I previously described my work. “Organicity” is the concept that I coined. It really boils down to capturing the essence and form of Nature in paintings. In other words, all the lines and structures and repeated forms are all reminiscent of what you see in the world of nature. Energy forms are the parlance of physics, and so many paintings are an attempt to create a visual portrayal of energy, whether it’s electromagnetic or gravitational or dark matter. This then is in metaphorical resonance with our internal energies and emotional states. We emerge into bardo states and meditative contemplation states of mind. That’s what this “Organicity” thing was all about. Now it’s too jargonised for me to refer to. The description or theorising about art should never be necessary for full experience of the depth of a painting. I want a person who has never read about art to feel and enter into the visual world inside a frame that is a metaphor for their own Self.

 

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Walking

IMG_9202.jpg qwe_HDR.jpegWalking into the setting sun…across all societies, a walking through nature into the transcendent sundown carries great meaning. I’m not sure if it’s the sun or the path or the profusion of nature….there is an archetype of power at work here. For me anyway. Some people don’t even think in these terms at all. Some people see the world as an aesthetic and moral and spiritual flatland. Not here though…