I hope this finds you and your loved ones well. Though there might be hard journeys ahead for some at this time, I feel the change of pace over the past couple of weeks has been welcomed by many. Slowing down is something I believe we can all benefit from in our fast paced society.
As an artist I'm no stranger to self-isolation. My work is solitary and time intensive, so this more internalised lifestyle is very familiar to me. In fact a lot of my work has been about this more inward-looking way of being, influenced in part by my ongoing meditation practice. My next few print releases over the coming weeks will be work that pertains to the exploration of these internal landscapes.
Firstly, some housekeeping... I'd like to say that I'll still be fulfilling print orders, with the utmost care for cleanliness while packing and handling of course. Unfortunately deliveries to a lot of countries are now experiencing delays, so please allow time for this.
Without further ado....
The first of my new print releases is 'The Involuted Submergent', taken from my 2008 debut solo show 'Into the Fold' at Forster gallery in London.
This series of paintings, all acrylic on canvas, were heavily influenced by Catholic iconography from the Baroque period, specifically the sculptural work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Bernini often used techniques of exaggeration, in his depiction of the folds in robes, body structure and cloud formations, to express an abstract form of 'spiritual energy'. But in contrast to their subjects stoic origins the aesthetic of Bernini's work manifests as lustful and extremely materialistic. Within the theatrical architecture of the cathedral or church, it seems to act more as a form of psychological escapism than a depiction of quiet religious contemplation.
Religious imagery from the Baroque period is 'hyper-real', an intensified version of reality where the lines between truth and fantasy are blurred. In fact the expressive Baroque style has part of its genesis in set design for Italian opera.
But what seems at first to be a form of escapism can also act as a stimulus to wake us up to reality. Just like stories of the Zen master who would hit a student with his keisaku and as a result the student attains enlightenment, a jolt in the senses via an intensified version of reality can sometimes allow us to see how intensely real and visceral our direct physical relationship with our world really is. In opening ourselves up to this we can live more fully, in direct connection with the true nature of our experience.
In my 'Into the Fold' series I predominantly chose images and put together forms which I felt would create a visual peak shift. This is a term given to the phenomena of 'neurological attraction' that appears in both humans and animals to an extreme characterisation of an object. Peak shift has been suggested by the neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran as one of the 10 universal laws of art.
This peakshift is present within advertising, Hollywood blockbusters, computer games, Baroque art and haute couture fashion, as well as in the extreme forms of body exaggeration found in bodybuilding and pornography. Japanese animation, which also uses this technique, has been a major influence on my painting style over the years.
By isolating what I saw as the crucial parts of such images and collaging them together within the work my intention was to intensify those visual triggers even further, so they produce a sort of neurological hyperactivity in the viewer.
'The Involuted Subergent' was directly inspired by the billowing robes of Catholic saints depicted in Baroque sculpture. It describes a portrait of an abstract being unfolding outward and unfurling into the surrounding landscape.
I was also influenced by religious iconography from Tibetan Buddhism, specifically the depiction of the 'rainbow body' in Tibetan thangkas. This phenomenon is said to occur when an enlightened being dies, they dissolve into a spectrum of light and out into their surroundings, leaving no trace of their body behind, only their robes.
Archival Smooth Rag 310gsm paper
Embossed with unique artists stamp
Image size: 64cm x 48cm
Take care and stay healthy