There is a deep thread that connects us all. In Taoist philosophy all things are seen as coming from a fundamental energy (qi) (Little, 2000, 127). This energy is flow, constantly in a state of flux, a dynamic balancing and imbalancing. Sometimes we can feel this come through in what Walter Benjamin calls the Aura. Benjamin describes it as such:
A strange weave of space and time: the unique appearance or semblance of distance, no matter how close it may be. While at rest on a summer’s noon, to trace a range of mountain on the horizon, or a branch that throws its shadow on the observer, until the moment or the hour become part of their appearance – this is what it means to breathe the aura… (Benjamin, 1931)
My artwork uses the visual paradigm as a method for connecting the viewer and the painting in a resonant conversation. It is drawing, painting, writing, it is reeling and unreeling the silk of the qi connecting us all. I encourage viewers to listen more with their souls and less with their eyes, imbibing the feeling of the work through the resonance of the vibration of the energy as it comes out to meet us.
In composing my work I conduct space and rhythm, line and plane, pushing and pulling the space back and forth in time. I make significant use of color movement, drawing on ideas from insights such as those of Kandinsky and Arnheim. I feel that movement is the language of color, how it speaks. I often incorporate the host/guest idea from Chinese painting, combined with ideas of concordance and discordance from music to find a color palette for a painting. Starting with a color, I choose a concordant color to join with the first and create a host or home atmosphere. I then choose appropriate discordant colors as the guest, or tension chord. Furthermore, I use Ligeti’s ideas of micropolyphony and sound clouds, as well as ideas from heterophonic music such as seen in Silk and Bamboo style Chinese folk music. This combination allows me to play with the sense of time and space felt by the viewer. I create subtly pulsating areas as well as intertwined melodic lines which blur the distinction between line and plane.
Drawing the viewer in with suggestions of meaningful forms, almost writing, organic type shapes, and yet always keeping a mysterious aspect to it creates a kind of tension, as Jacque Ranciere states, “the experience of disharmony between Reason and Imagination tends towards the discovery of a higher harmony” (Ranciere, 2015, 131). Pushing people to dig deeper into the conversation with the work, but most importantly with themselves and the relations to the qi of all things.
Both the aesthetic and non-aesthetic aspects my painting are important, and the uneasy tension between the two functions to make the work more successful. Ranciere notes that “art has lived for two centuries from the very tension by which it is at once itself and beyond itself, and by which it promises a future destined to remain unaccomplished” (Ranciere, 2015, 183). No one artwork will allow anyone to immediately and fully understand their relation to the universe and the qi of all things, that is the work of many lifetimes. Thus as Ranciere notes, the goal of the artwork will remain unaccomplished, it is however, the movement towards this that is the achievement. Each moment of entering in, deeper listening, catching of resonance, this is unaccomplished accomplishment.
Benjamin, Walter, “Little History of Photography” (1931), trans. Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter, SW, 2:518; GS, 2:378.
Little, Stephen, Shawn Eichman, and Patricia Buckley Ebrey. Taoism and the arts of China. Chicago, IL: Art Institute of Chicago, 2000. Print.
Ranciere, Jacques. Dissensus. Trans. Steven Corcoran. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. Print.