Friday, January 20, 2017

Beyond the Horizon (oil on canvas, 2016)

As our lives play out, many of us have a tendency to fall into the habit of playing certain roles. Whether it’s a child or a parent, an engineer or a chef, a football fan or a saxophone player, a vegetarian, an intellectual, a hunter, a Christian, an employee, a neighbor, etc.., we look outside ourselves for our identity. It’s easy to do and I’m certainly guilty of it myself, but in so doing, we might lose touch with our true, inner identity – that thing that makes each of us uniquely ourselves.

We can see a similar phenomenon in painting, where many paintings get their identity by trying to be something else: a landscape, a bowl of fruit, a horse, a king, a sailboat, etc., and we can forget that a painting’s true identity is ultimately just an arrangement of shapes, colors, lines and textures.

The original inspiration for this image came whilst looking at a very small section of an earlier painting. With the subject matter removed, the image became pure colour and form, without attempting to describe something that it was not, and yet I felt that it conveyed something very personal. So, I developed the idea into this painting, which took on a life of its own once I commenced working on it.

I admit, there is a certain resemblance to some kind of landscape. The top portion of the painting, being similar in value throughout, with no hard edges, suggests empty space and atmosphere, whilst the bottom portion, with it’s antithetical attributes (strong value contrasts and hard edged shapes), suggest density and solidity. As a result, the border where they meet can easily be read as some sort of “horizon”. (It would be a very different painting, indeed, if it were turned upside down!)

I look forward to continuing to exploring this method of working and hopefully, in the process, get closer to my own true identity.

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