Symbolic Abstracts Exploring the Circle

For the series of abstracts I am currently working on, I have chosen one symbol: the circle. Why the circle? Well, there is no particular preference for any geometric shape, it’s just that I had to chose one, and then allow the series of works to evolve around the use of this shape.

It is a very inclusive symbol, and seems appropriate for bringing together my technical and stylistic approaches to reference philosophical and psychological themes.

I am a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s writings where he cites the circle as being the best symbol to describe the hero’s journey, which I like to think of as a healing journey.

Here’s a little dialogue he had with Bill Moyers in regards to the circle.

The hands-on mixing of colours, building up of textures, and making intuitive decisions is what I think of as the existential aspect of my artistic practice, whereas, the introduction of measurement and proportion incorporates the metaphysical and rational Platonic aspect. I want the works to be expressive, as well as decorative, chaotic, yet ordered, small in size, while expansive in their effect.

A4 size circle with green for web

A4 size circle with green close for web

After painting the shape of the circle, I then cut a circle out of pieces of paper which had first been coated with a base colour mixed with sand texture gel, and had had some acrylic pouring and blotching done to them.
I then sliced out a section from this textured circle to reveal the colour underneath add further interest.

These sections could be thought of as phases in the mythic journey, or just as phases in time. The thing I don’t like about analogue clocks and watches is that they can trick us into thinking that we just repeat the same cycle over and over, like clockwork, but don’t account for the unique weather, mood, or challenges of any particular cycle, or phase within that cycle.

Circle on blue with black and black frame for web

Crircle on blue with brown and square frame for web

Continuing Along with Painting and Chigong

Zhineng Chigong was working well for me, so the following year I learnt the second method, otherwise known as “Body/Mind Form”. It involves a lot more stretching and opening up of the meridian channels than the first method. I was devoting two to three hours of every day to chigong. I was taking steps to change my diet, as I had read a graphic novel called “Epileptic” in which the author writes about his being brought up with a brother who had severe epilepsy, and his parents’ struggle to try to find an alternative treatment for him. Their journey at one point lead them to stay at a Macrobiotic commune, where the author’s brother enjoyed quite a lengthy period without seizures, until the commune had to move off the land, and so was fractured, leaving him and his family having to search for another solution.

I just happened to be looking on a clearance table in a bookstore one day, when I came across “The Macrobiotic Way” by Michio Kushi. I think it was marked down to ten dollars; what a bargain for such a great little book! I had been struggling with my diet, as taking Tegretol had made be somewhat irregular, and a diet based on whole grains just seemed to make perfect sense to me. I had decreased my tegretol dosage a little by now, and was taking 100mg fast release in the morning, and 400mg slow release in the evening (as I have nocturnal epilepsy).

I had taken it upon myself to seek out a part time job, which I knew would be tough, considering the arthritis, the need to wear shades to prevent my eyes both from bright light and from dryness, and the fatigue. I got in touch with a local agency set up to help those with disabilities find jobs, and long story short, I got a permanent part time position with a market research company, which allowed me to work from home. The idea of “cold calling” and the thought of having to deal with disgruntled respondents didn’t bother me, as I saw the opportunity to put into practice some of those Toltec and Chigong principles and techniques I had been learning, in order to stay calm and focused in tense situations.

The extra money I was earning allowed me to fund my own solo exhibition in an underground gallery which had just started up in the central city at the time, called simply “The Room”:

birthlossdeath 2010      crush on worry 2010

feet in a line1 cropped      housefly 2010      love is being

my job 2010      Seizure 2010

mathematical shane 2010      Rimbaud socrates 2010

The show was called “Swallow Or Be Swallowed”, a quote I had taken from Joseph Campbell whose books i was reading at the time which seemed to sum up the attitude one needs on the healing and artistic journey.

Basquiat, Dubuffet, and Cy Twombly were heavily influencing my stylistic and technical approach at the time. I had found in Neo-Expressionism a way to release my anxiety, and to create large paintings (A1 or A2 size) which could communicate in a very graphic way thought feelings and ideas as they arose.

I was still dissatisfied with the lack of consistency of style and theme.

I was hoping to find a way of resolving this issue, and to have another show at The Room in maybe 6 to 8 months. Little did I know, however, what was in store for Christchurch City…