SERIES / BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS
For this series I responded to a number of compelling variations on darkness that have beckoned me, directing me anew. Organic forms became abstracted from their original context. Branches and bone emerged, along with black holes and negative space. Concepts and language poignant in both art and astronomy allow us to contemplate the concord between these realms. Darkness in a composition contrasts with its opposite: light. A juxtaposition within which each entity relies on its other. There is beauty to be found in this interdependence, as there is in darkness itself, in art and life alike. I set myself to looking.
The materials to express this visual and conceptual dynamic presented themselves: ink, watercolour, graphite, charcoal. The obvious surfaces for these dark, sometimes liquid media were watercolour paper and yupo (a waterproof, tree-free synthetic paper).
My impetus here was the visceral experience. In work and life, tremendous forces pulled me away from worn realms toward new ones. I withdrew to my space and practice, sickened by the corrupting force of materialism, with its insatiable gluttony for the earth. Drawn away from size, density, brightness, and likeability, I rediscovered small surfaces, meditative detail, and the endless expression possible in mere drops and traces of watercolour, as well as in Japanese brushwork from quieter times.
Narrowing the physical dimensions of the surface seemed to expand, rather than limit, worlds of exploration and expression. One of the paintings depicts, as I see it, the entrance to a reverse or parallel universe. We see as if in the centre of a black hole, beyond the event horizon. Worm holes: I am fascinated by the theory that our universe has pockets of interdimensionality through which dimensions coalesce, communicate, collide. Dark Matter, Dark Energy: negative space is everywhere, should you choose to look for it, be it in a composition or our surroundings. These works are energized by the mysteriousness of black matter and the unknown.
Other expanses opened me to the use of grayscale. I accepted the challenge to harness subtle shifts in light and dark and find ever-finer gradations between them. But this revealed a wider vocabulary within greys alone, and their endless possibilities in suggesting form, shape, texture, movement, and weight.
There is something in this work of nothing. There is absence. Obvious beauty is replaced by the grotesque, by a macabre blankness. Much of the surface isn’t touched at all. Where it is, there is darkness, absence. In life, one cannot add darkness so much as remove light. Yet only through removal do these works reveal their substance.