My critical statement for my degree final:
Inspired by the Romantic Sublime and Symbolist landscape painters, my work depicts scenes that combine outer reality with inner vision. I use colour, texture and brushwork to cast a vision- a fusion of sight and feeling.
Found images that resonate with fantasies or dreams, along with my own photographs and experiences, form the basis of my compositions. From this departure point the work develops in a visceral and spontaneous manner. The qualities of the paint itself dictate the physicality of the work as it pools or flows, creates impasto opacities or transparent layers. Intuitively led; vision, action and expression combine, building patterns and forms with quixotic aspects whilst still relating to recognisable imagery.
Like other esoteric individualists, I find my peace, strength and solace, my connection and empowerment through the forces of nature and the elements. They vivify me with their presence, from the glorious colours of a sunset to the enlivening blast of a gale; the heartening blooming of flowers or the crashing, splashing of waves. These feelings and sensations, this energy and pleasure suffuses my paintings.
It is this relationship I seek to share with those who view my work. A work of art is experienced in the mind of the viewer. A painting is an invitation to interact with the artist’s vision, the depth to which a viewer acts upon that invitation is entirely their own affair but the power painting has above and beyond language is that it can initiate a visceral response beyond the remit of words, through subject matter, colour, texture and composition. It has the freedom to elicit an unconditioned response. As Bill Viola, a key proponent of the contemporary sublime, says:
“Art is about bringing forth what’s in you, in some metaphysical, spiritual dimension, bringing it into the world in some tangible physical way that others can experience” ("Bill Viola - FIVE ANGELS")
I paint scenes of solitude and isolation because it is in these situations I find the peace that allows me to be at one with nature and commune therewith. A landscape scene free of evidence of humanity emphasises the experience of a sublime situation: you are there, alone, as you are in dreams and in life, truly. The lack of context makes the natural forces more brutal and potent, the viewer is exposed in a personal encounter.
Informed by philosophical ideas of the Sublime; that feeling of elation when confronted with the untamed forces of nature; the overwhelming terror at the spectacle of unlimited power; that frightful euphoria of the vast and threatening; an innate fear of the deadly that nonetheless delights.
The Sublime is exhilarating. Contemplating the sheer power of forces able to consume and engulf us, fills us with a quivering joy. It enlivens our minds and feeds our spirits. These moments of wonder in life are fleeting, yet we can capture and extend them through art.
Inspired by Turner and Romanticism, my work depicts the rhythms and inconstancies of the forces of nature and the elements. An ever-transforming flux of constant change. Those energies that surround and flow through us. . My experiences of these phenomena are transposed and re-transmitted as art, translated into the language of colour and imagery.
It is the Sublime quest to connect with something beyond the everyday, to connect to something other- as witnessed through the vastness of nature, and to create the opportunity for others to experience this and share the vision.
If “romanticism” is infused with a feeling of “longing for” – for the past, a lover, nature, beauty, contentment, unity- then most of us spend a great deal of time in that state! My paintings are places I long to be, experiences I long to share, moments I long to extend, dreams I long to return to, or spectacles I long to witness.
The sublime experience of the untamed power of the natural world, even among tranquil settings, fused with an expression of the artists subjectivity leads to the transcendental, imaginative landscapes of Symbolism.
In my work I strive to create a sense of movement and transience, capture a fleeting moment or share the essence of an experience. Not as an exercise in aesthetics but in an effort to explore and engage the imagination. As Rothko said of his fields of colour:
“To begin an unknown adventure in an unknown space...to a place for numinous encounters, spiritual explorations” (MarkRothko.org)
A landscape structure provides the framework on which to project the artists psyche. Legible to all, a vista may be manipulated to reflect moods, stimulate emotions, to build an atmosphere of magic and mysticism. Using colours, textures, shape and form the artist conjures up spiritual, numinous sensations and elicits emotions. Nature, as a manifestation of divine presence, is reflected but adjusted to convey layers of meaning that display the “impassioned equivalent of a sensation we had registered” (Maurice Denis. Thomson)
It is this art with soul, with spirit, art that includes and involves both artist and viewer in a sublime, mystical or imaginative vision as a moment beyond the norms of everyday life, that I am driven to create.
Infused with a spirituality that is more unifying than divisive, it is not dictatorial but speaks to only those who seek it or who find themselves engaged in an experience of it, and is free to be interpreted at will. It acknowledges something other, beyond the rational and scientific, that can be shared without getting lost in language or interpretation. A picture speaks not only a thousand words but a thousand languages and a thousand ages.