ESSAYS ON ART OF THE IMAGINATION
ART OF THE IMAGINATION
art of the imagination finds itself in favour spasmodically,
only to be eclipsed for long durations by art which
either copies its models directly from nature; or
as was the case for the main part of the twentieth
century, finds its models in the non-figurative.
Breton lamented on the eclipse of the nineteenth
century's practitioners of art of the imagination,
the symbolists (mortal enemies of the impressionists & Zola)
and famously proclaimed that the appreciation of
their art was blocked by the level crossings of nothing.
tends to be circular and today the boom gates of
the level crossings have been lowered yet again.
a nation like Australia where the artistic cause
celebres have been those whose horizons never quite
rose above nationalistic themes you might expect
that the imagination would be overwhelmed or extinguished. Fortunately
this has not quite been the case, but only
to my solo exhibition at Roar Studios in Melbourne 1 - 13
INTRODUCTION TO EXHIBITION
paintings in this exhibition span a time-frame of 21 years worth
of effort. The recent computer work was a result of 8 weeks worth
of sitting before a computer, creating in that short time approximately
3-4 years worth of my usual output of paintings.
paintings basically all belong to my 'apocalypse' phase where
humanity was to be stripped bare of dignity and meaning with
the pointlessness of it all exposed. I have progressed though. My
paintings now show that the immutability of objects whether
animate or not, human or not, mechanical or not, can be breached
in the visual sphere. After-all, all biology shares the same
make-up: we are all composed of cells, which die constantly
and are replaced constantly. And when we die, on the
cellular level, that which does die is a completely different
entity to that which was born. The cells we were born
with have died and been replaced many times over. Basically
we never are but are always in a state of becoming.
Ultimately we are all composed of matter, nothing more than
encapsulated quanta of energy. Everything ultimately
in the past [my work included] representations of human
birth and 'nurturement' of human foetuses by machinery [intended]
to express the 'choice', or rather, lack of choice
in being born into this pointless existence, those elements
have disappeared. I do not anymore belabour the point of
the involuntary nature of being born and the mindless perpetuation
of this imposition of the same fate to others that
have yet to be born by those that are born. Although
my visual iconography has remained the same my more recent
works simply reconstitute the animate with the inanimate,
and within the animate 'bits' from nonrelated species become
interchangeable. *[refer notes, below]
a technical and artistic level I disagree with the notion
that art should not be figurative, or that there should merely
be “hints” within the painting with the rest left up
to the viewer to interpret. If you have no idea you hope
that your viewer invents one for you. It is a lot more difficult
bringing incongruous elements together and making them appear
to belong together, balance the composition so that it is
not a random and poorly executed photomontage, than
it is balancing abstract forms and colours. You have to begin
with an idea, you have to build on it and you have to be
capable of pulling it off. This is hard work! It can
take anything from a week or two to reconcile a composition:
make it work, after that it has to be drawn on the canvas,
and then painted, a process that can take 4 - 9 weeks. I
still find myself painting on images that I drew in my sketchbook
do I have time for what is mistermed as 'experimental
art'. The purpose of any experiment is to provide an empirical
basis for either the validation or refutation of a particular
contention; an experiment proves or disproves. Thus
an experiment once done need not be repeated over and over
just for the sake of performing it! It is nothing more
than a self-serving and pointless self indulgence.
NOTES: Nature uses a similar process in the evolution of
species...: "...the forelimbs of vertebrates which, whether
they serve reptiles, birds, whales or man, show the same
basic design of bones, muscles, nerves...The functions of
legs, wings and flippers are quite different, yet they all
are variations on a single theme: strategic modifications
of a pre-existing structure... Once Nature has 'taken out
a patent' on a vital organ she sticks to it... while its
adaptation to swimming, walking or flying is a matter of
evolution's flexible strategy." p204, Chapter XI "Strategies
and purpose in evolution", from the book JANUS A summing
Up, by Arthur Koestler isbn: 0 09 132100 X.
photoraph (below) taken in the Australia Museum (Sydney) illustrates
text in the photograph reads: "The forelimbs of backboned animals such as
amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals often look very different on the
outside. However their bony skeletons reveal that they have evolved from
a common ancestor. Their limbs have been modified and adapted by natural
selection for different modes of life (walking, running, climbing, digging,
swimming and flying) in different environments. By comparing the same bones
in each limb (HOMOLOGY) we can trace the underlying similarities between
each vertebrate limb."
essay accompanying the painting Post Industrial Muses at
the Amalgam Exhibition at 4Cats Galley 9-27 April 2002
sometimes develop as a consequence of forms suggested....
this painting forms are suggested by the machinery.
work has to be consistent with the visual iconography
of past works. The machinery can accommodate
bony structures at any point. This painting,
one of several versions based on what are abandoned
steam-engines at an old disused rock-quarry
at the Grampians (Victoria Australia), shows
bony appendages evolving into the muses.
versions have bony appendages developing at other points
but devoid of any human element. In this painting the figures
evolve from the machinery. The title is actually an afterthought....
The figures appear as muses, created by an industrialised
culture then abandoned. The explosion in the background adds
drama. It was selected because it looked good. Sometimes
critics and viewers have to accept that aesthetics come before
psychology..... which means that the psychoanalytical approach,
quite popular for most of the last century, was more a betrayal
of various critics’ own perceptions... and hardly relevant
in the analysis of either the art in question or the artist
who created it.
to my work for the joint exhibition (with school-friend-artist
Heather Robinson) at Roen Gallery in Melbourne 15-26 June
is a medium of self-expression. Through it the artist
displays another dimension of himself, and through
it the artist is able to gain a greater understanding
of himself and/or perhaps the world around him. Better
artists are capable of interpreting feelings, perceptions,
ideas, in visual imagery. True art is an extension
of the artist's self and an extension of his beliefs,
ideas, conceptions. True art possesses the psychological,
the 'spiritual' depth that transcends the mere visual
image with the artist in possession of the ability
of expression of an inner depth, an inner reality
with the capability to transcend reality and reach
a goal far beyond the immediate visual image.
art strives for this inner meaning, to transcend
reality, interpret my own inner perceptions, ideas.
My later works which are not here but are pencil
sketches, come closer to this. The inferiority of
my own art which is exhibited lies in my own inability
to render in colour the 'feel' originally intended
in the pencil sketch, usually ending up with a painting
which evokes an entirely different 'feel', which
lacks impact, the discomforting atmosphere of the
the public seeks 'meaning' unable to realise that
the depiction of the commonplace [landscapes, still-lifes,
etc] has no meaning. Art is not supposed to 'mean'
anything. Art is an expression. I compose and express
to the best of my ability.
is evident when the artist looks into himself, his
inner-personna, his psychology and allows these inner
motivations outward expression.
is at best, expressed by way of intuition and an
artist, certainly those better than myself, possess
visionary power and intellectual strength which I
am only now beginning to develop.