Welcome to my latest endeavour. I’m switching it up again. What follows is a collection of paintings I call the Sacred Geometries. They are on display at the Kent Farndale Gallery, Port Perry, for the month of February.
With Geometric Abstraction the possibilities seem infinite.
My one constant is the technique. I draw each piece on a wood panel, cut the design and then stain it- the cuts prevent the stain bleeding through the grain.
The first piece in this series was based on a floor pattern in the Sistine Chapel.
“GOSPELS” is a symbolic representation of the relationship of the Apostles to Jesus and the world. Jesus is the centre and his influence touches all the apostles and the message and life- force flow around and out into the world.
It wasn’t until I had cut the design that I realized my flow doesn’t flow. The movement is trapped in the moment. That’s a comment. But I didn’t set out to make it.
“CREATION” evolved from an earlier drawing. The halfway switch in the pattern causes the image to flicker as if it’s turning. I think of it like it’s a tunnel-digger or a mining tool, grinding light from the void.
“CAMPIGDOLIA CIRCLED” is a play on a design by Michelangelo for a huge plaza in Rome. His was based on an oval. I have simplified it into a circle — thus the title.
This piece I call ‘MUSIC”. I can almost hear it. It’s the brass section. It’s coming out of a speaker.
In January 2016, I went to Virginia to attend a fresco painting workshop held in the newly built Chapel of a private Catholic School. The visit coincided with the most extreme snowstorm Virginia had witnessed since 1922. It trapped us in the chapel for several days. When I got back I painted “MADONNA OF THE SNOWS”.
I’ve been asked which piece is my favourite. It’s an odd question. But if I had to choose, this piece is definitely in the running.
Most of the paintings in this show deal with big themes. Deciphering the pattern underlying a moroccan wall tile, gave me the basis of the interlaced and continuous shape of “CRYSTAL INFINITY”. It’s a meditation on the universe.
When you turn circles into ovals you introduce the illusion of three dimensions. The initial drawing for this piece, taken from a church dome, was so overwhelming that I did a large number of colour sketches to figure out how to paint it. I call them “THE MOONS OF TITAN”. The piece isn’t called “TITAN” because it is a dome not a death star.
I’m calling it “ELATION ‑for BILL”.
At Bill Lishman’s memorial, his son Jordie recounted how Bill was insistent that a commissioned sculpture be called “ELATION”. I had been puzzling over what to call this piece and I thought at the time — this would be a good title for my piece. Then Jordie went on to say , it was because Bill wanted to introduce his piece as the “ AJAX ELATION”…
I’ve got the Port Perry “ELATION”, a different level of wonderment. Then again, my wife, the beloved Ms Anne calls it “MADONNA’S BRA” Not the same Madonna as before. A different Madonna. But something is happening under all the gold.
I wanted to try doing spirals, which are more difficult to draw with precision than circles or ovals. I suppose i could have tried computer generated but I haven’t got there yet. My spirals are based on a spiral staircase that I stared at for days. (After the fact, Judith has showed me how to construct spirals from a series of triangles. Thank you Judith.)
“MOTION”. This little piece took forever and went through many changes on its way to completion. At one point I called it “TURBINE, ROOSTER, RADIO TOWER”
The painting “TIME TUNNEL”, was based on the same initial spiral but it was a much more cooperative piece.
A drawing I found in one of my sketch books, turned into the minimal piece I call “SIR LANCELOT.” Until you get close to the piece the small red ribbon is barely visible. For a while it was a different colour every day until I realized that it was a bleeding gash. The Knight has been wounded. True bravery requires conquering fear. Sometimes it takes a while to see the obvious.
Most of the time I have no idea where the piece is going when I start. I can imagine how something will look but then I have to deal with how it actually looks.”FABLE” for instance. I imagined it as Aztec but it ended up being like an Eastern European Easter Egg design and has a feel like a Brothers Grimm tale.
One of the weirdest outcomes came about when I painted an Arabic floor pattern in a Chinese palette. “ENTER THE DRAGON” was a very unexpected evolution.
“VASARLEY UNCHAINED” is named after Victor Vasarley an artist famed in the 1960’s for his Op Art and Geometric Abstractions. My piece is very close to one of his signature explorations but a whole lot looser, having thrown off the shackles of precision and exactitude.
Another wild tangent has produced a piece constructed in collaboration with Jack Seary. Jack photographed the initial piece and then mounted it six up to form the complex “VOODOO FONTAINEBLEAU.” The repeating pattern produces variations depending on how the initial piece is mounted . One arrangement involved mirroring the image, another was achieved by rotating the image.
Next up is an unfinished piece called “VITRUVIAN STAR.” I’ve been reading about Leonardo. I’ve taken his famous “VITRUVIAN MAN” and morphed it into the inhuman — 3,4,5. Triangle, square, pentagon.
As you can see, I’ve been wildly covering territory in my celebration of the possibilities. I leapt on my horse and rode off in all directions. I could return to any one of these areas and explore in greater depth, or maybe I’ll just keep on journeying into the infinite.