Symposium 2 – for 30th May 2019:
A painting is an aesthetic entity; it exists as it is and that is enough. But for me it has also not been enough as I have asked myself all along as to why the painting is as it is, rather than any other way.
Looking into this I have explored a path of poiesis (meaning making) relative to painting, along the way finding intersections with other disciplines including but not limited to poetry, neuroscience and philosophy. All of this I am now weaving with the following:
Painting is a do-it-yourself activity, progress made through the doing of it, each painting informing the next. The paintings have common descent, inevitably so but each one along the way is also a unique and unpredictable individual – it can’t be known until it is seen.
The painting is a field in which tensions arising between contrasting elements generated may then be resolved – an evolving network of relationships functioning adaptively. The whole is continuously balanced by feedback loops, keeping it alive, as if by homeostasis.
I work everything out on the painting surface itself, not applying labels beforehand to not restrict things. I work to my own system based on fundamental pictorial elements such as line, giving me endless possibility for variation. Consolidating this during this MA, I have come to call my system pictopoiesis which, keeping things open, simply means painting-making.
Reflective thinking is essential as it constantly revitalises but it is also circular. Critical analysis helps me to see what is actually going on, to not be complacent with things or take them for granted. This way, circular thinking opens out into a spiral, moving things to the next level whilst maintaining the life-affirming rhythm of the circular gesture – where the end of the line is also its rebeginning.
Alongside the paintings I make digital animated timelines showing where the painting has come from and how it moves through a series of unifications continually regenerating it. These renewals serve to clarify the situation in its ever-increasing complexity over time. These timelines evidence both the painting’s descent from source and its ascent – a transmutation from primal to higher form.
Continuity with origin is continuously embodied but the beginning becomes increasingly invisible, the layers of work becoming the work at the same time as they veil it; it becomes the visible invisible.
The aesthetics of my approach are consciously governed not by externally-derived stylistic notions, rather by universal principles such as those driving growth and development in natural forms.
We have had scientific knowledge of such matters for ages but only recently has that been expanded to include that of complex adaptive systems such as homeostasis, a system which we all depend on to stay alive. After all the world is perhaps best understood from the perspective of a body, each and every one of us a living body – in this we are on common ground.
Making it or looking at it, when art works well it makes us feel extra alive. Remotely, I imbue these notions and thoughts into a painting. It seems to me to be a real basis for connection. I see the painting as having its own agency in this respect once it is in the world.
This consideration is particularly relevant to today bearing in mind the various conversations around the production of artificially-intelligent art.
Material matters as everything has material origin; thought itself depending on having a brain-containing body first.
I use the medium of oil for its provenance both in art historical terms and in personal terms – it was with oil paint that I began my first artistically self-conscious explorations.
The oil itself was alive relatively recently and it has unique sensual, elastic properties such that to me it is as if it were still alive.
I think in terms of the continuum of this historic medium. I also fully embrace digital tools to help explicate and enrich the situation.
The unbroken thread of consciousness that has brought us here is palpable – the unfolding future a matter of the continuously evolving past.