Monday, September 28, 2009
WHERE IS YOUR PARADISE?
This is my latest painting which I have called 'Paradise'. Readers of my BLOG would recognise that it flows from my previous work inspired by the tree-of-life and tree-of-knowledge. My last few paintings have introduced Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden into my visual explorations of the symbolic and metaphysical potential in stories and iconic motifs.
My interest is not in literal interpretations or illustrating history. My interest is in the possibility of gaining emotional, spiritual and conceptual sustenance that is meaningful in this contemporary world in which we all live. I am not interested in prescribing what this meaningfulness is because I believe each person has the capacity and urge to search for their own meaning. Age-old iconic motifs and stories provide a gateway for each person to open and proceed to explore at their own pace and in their own direction. Readers of my BLOG know of my aversion to the didacticism I see and read in some contemporary cultural offerings, particularly children's literature. Didacticism does not provide a gateway with endless pathways. It is more like a cattle crush. [the yards designed to feed cattle or sheep through to be branded, loaded onto trucks etc.]
I have called my new painting 'Paradise' because the Garden of Eden is described as a paradise. It is also described as a temple, thus indicating that it was a place of worship where a personal relationship with God could take place. Many years ago when people asked me where I lived I would often say, 'In my head.' It sounded a lot more interesting than saying Dalby or Goondiwindi! As a child I daydreamt all the time, much to the dismay of my teachers. However, daydreams are an escape to a paradise, a place where everything is possible. I believe that our Garden of Eden [our temple] lives inside us, in our imaginations and dreams. I also believe that some art is the perfect catalyst for imagination and dreaming, especially if it causes a person to ask questions, to wonder and to reflect. As people do these things their abilities to understand metaphor and symbols becomes more attuned. I have previously written about my observation that contemporary society has lost its ability to 'read' symbols and then to extrapolate meaning from them. Visual literacy skills are not just about knowing what a symbol might represent, but also understanding them at a metacognitive level where meaning can be responded to in both an emotional and intellectual [even spiritual] sense.
A painting, by providing just one nano second of a story, does not attempt to complete it, thus the viewer can provide their own pre and post narratives. My new painting could be said to be based on a narrative ie: the story of Adam and Eve, but what I like about stories which are mythic and symbolic, is that the viewer can place themselves into the story. Thus, the narrative becomes a constantly new one, never before written or seen, yet the core of humanity exists as a spine or trunk of a tree. A person returning to a painting which has provided them with an internal emotional/intellectual or spiritual journey can find themselves taken even further on their subsequent viewings. A number of people who have bought my paintings have told me they see something new in the painting they bought each day. I love hearing this, because it means my painting lives rather than decorates.
A visitor to my house this week spent about 3 hours looking at and talking to me about my work. He made a comment which really blew me away. He said, 'You know you'd return from the dead to look at your paintings Kathryn.' WOW! Now this got my imagination going for sure. Lots of ghosts wandering through my house to get their 'fix'. We discussed what he meant, which was that each painting seemed to have endless possibilities for thought and contemplation, and that one idea lead to another and another, thus making it seem unlikely that one lifetime would provide enough time to fully explore. I took this as a great compliment.
Readers of my BLOG also know of my interest in distance and perspective. Stories/myths and a iconic motifs represented in paintings are like single points with endless trajectories for story and meaning in all directions. Horizons exist behind, in front, beside and under, with each horizon once reached revealing another. Indeed, sometimes returning to a previously visited horizon is important. These horizons may be close or far in temporal or spatial distance.
'Paradise' depicts the moment Eve is created from sleeping Adam's rib. Trees grow from Eve's outstretched arms creating a multitude of colour and pattern. Please read my last two or three posts where I have written more extensively about Adam and Eve, a story which is shared by the three Abrahamaic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. My interest with 'Paradise' was to create a sense of the universe, awe, movement, beauty and extra-ordinariness. Surely these are all elements which the temple aspires to achieve. My other interest is the fact that shared stories connect us forever.
I love painting because each work exists as a point/gateway with endless possibilities. The viewer creates these possibilities and in this way quietly and privately extends my work into the collective memory and consciousness.
Paradise Oil on linen 62 x 82 cm 2009