Header image: Oil on Paper, J.Waring Rago, 2015
Extending my previous post further
Halo, (a synonym for aura – see Walter Benjamin)
Years ago, I decided that in painting, I wanted to work towards a sense of depth implied by an inner, radiant light one unaffected by the superficial.
At the very beginning, I had only the artists of history to look at and my first point of reference was Cezanne who achieves this sense of inner light particularly well in his still lifes. Also, Cezanne’s treatment, in particular of the edges of his forms, was something I saw as having potentially boundless expansion. This is echoed in my work still.
Living in Italy, I began with still lifes, first from life, and then many landscapes, also done from life (with the benefit of an Italian climate) and when I had exhausted visible subject matter I began to invent my own, basing it on that which I had understood from all of my studies so far. When I left Italy to come to rural Lincolnshire the change could not have been more extreme and I have hardly ever worked from life since then. I worked gradually experimenting with different ideas all the while working towards a representation of the visible invisible, though at the time I did not see it as such, I was simply going from one work to the next, finding a way to move forward according to my own intuitions and instincts. I did this for many more years making numerous works, most of which I still retain. These works show a complete artistic evolution, which Iam only now able to begin to objectify satisfactorily. Throughout my prevailing thought has been concerned with what exactly should the subject matter of my work be. I now see it as being the thought of the work itself, making me inseparable from it. I transfer my self into it, not my superficial surface self but my deep self – that which I have in common with nature as a whole, with humankind. There is no loss or compromise of my individuality in what amounts to a recognition of common descent. My work is recognisable as such, it could not be otherwise. My stance is not only as a painter, ie artistic, it is also existential and philosophical and it is a fluid stance which has at its core a perception of being alive due to the balancing act of feedback mechanisms which maintain life.
A Halo is something that speaks of an inner light, most obvious examples being the haloes in old religious paintings such as I saw much of in Italy. What intrigued me most about the haloes were that they were abstract elements which always seemed out of place in an otherwise figurative painting. The halo has a sense of transcendence, it suggests an afterlife, so welcome in the so solemn, often dire scenes of religious intensity. The halo makes a positive statement, of hope and optimism, of inner light and joy beyond, a continuation.
As always, Whitman has the words:
I know I am deathless,
taken from Section 20 of Song of Myself
The images of suffering in today’s world are everywhere and they are overwhelming. It is easier to not look at all. I see the painting as something that asks to be seen, and seen again, to see what it is really about, what is actually happening.
Notes to Self:
Works in oil on paper – backlit – halo effect