Restraint & Release

After being shackled by the societal restrictions over the past year it seemed more than apt that I would receive a painting commission that would come to visually embody the emotional and physical release many of us might feel we need at this moment in time.

I was asked to create a painting that aligned itself with the stylistic energies of my previous painting series, 'Into the Fold' (2008) & Paroxysm (2009-10).

At the time of their creation the energetic wildness those paintings depicted was something I wasn't able to fully connect with in the rest of my life.

Early on in my artistic career my personality was much more reserved and I was restricted in what I could do beyond my artistic practice, with only enough money for painting materials, food and the monthly bills.

I was the cliched socially awkward starving artist. Instead, I chose to live vicariously through my luxurious and expressive creations.

The Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus have been cited by Western philosophers for many years, most notably by Friedrich Nietzsche, as representing this dichotomy of restraint and release.

Apollo, the god of the sun, symbolised rational thinking and order, appealing to logic, prudence and purity.

This mythic persona symbolises the function of our higher cortex, the human brain's last evolutionary development that lifted us beyond our animal origins.

Apollonian behaviour is very much needed to help run our civilised day to day lives, but it misses out a vital part of our humanity.

For that we turn to Dionysus, the god of wine and dance, he represents irrationality and chaos, and appeals to emotions and instincts.

This persona is connected to our deep limbic brain that developed long before humans ever picked up tools or created fire. It is our wild and uncivilised self.

But Apollo and Dionysus shouldn't be seen as opposing forces. They are meant to work together, to create a balanced and integrated self.

I instinctively knew this early on, with regards to my work, harnessing the tension between the Dionysian chaotic energy of my visual style through the Apollonian discipline of my methodical artistic practice.

This was something Nietzsche also explored in his writings:

"If there is to be art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable: frenzy. Frenzy must first have enhanced the excitability of the whole machine; else there is no art."

Given my recent background in martial arts and qi gong, what I think Nietzsche is referring to, by his use of the word ‘frenzy’, is a shaking up and loosening of stagnant internal energies, both physical and mental. Once that has been achieved that energy can then be channeled purposefully into an art form with the vitality of that individuals unique expression.

In her essay for the book 'Nature, Love, Medicine' the biologist Gwen Annette Heistand sums this all up quite poetically: "Discipline is the dance partner of wildness."

'Emergence' is now available as a limited edition print. 20 only. Printed on archival smooth rag 310gsm paper and embossed with my unique artists stamp.

Emergence is now available as a signed limited edition print. Printed on archival smooth rag 310gsm paper and embossed with my unique artists stamp.

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