If the word ‘utopia’ masks false optimism, what is the endgame of civilisation? Exponential expansion of populations, economies and cities, would lead to its opposite. So why is the possibility of one and not the other so favoured? The translation of ‘utopia’ from the ancient Greek, as ‘no place’, certainly conjures a sense of the unrealisable. Therefore, is it a question of acceptance, where to be enlightened is to accept reality without judgement?
If utopia is physically unattainable, can its potential be unlocked through the power of imagination? To paraphrase Wittgenstein, perhaps it is to show what cannot be said. In a world of magnifying complexity, fragmentation and unpredictability, it is tempting to look to the past for ancient insight or wisdom. Yet civilisation finds itself at an unprecedented point. The world has never been so populous and perilously interdependent, so where do we look to anticipate an inclusive, as opposed to divisive, future? Imagination, as the quality that separates the human race from its primordial origins, has repeatedly paved the evolutionary way. The field of painting, faced with a blank canvas and an unfathomable flow of imagination, allows for enormous freedom in the collaboration of visual philosophy with mathematical precision.
Established nations no longer rely on religion but possess technologies, financial institutions, corporations, and military hardware sufficient to command economic, cultural and strategic influence across the globe, whilst emerging nations rush to catch up or languish in poverty induced obscurity, unnoticed until the next crisis restores them to global attention. It is perhaps too late to emulate an earlier age, or to learn from disappearing tribes or indigenous peoples about how to relate to the natural world. Yet humanity must eventually embrace a synthesis between the knowledge that has been gained through waves of civilisation, and intuitive understanding, perhaps never lost.
The artworks do not ignore these facts, nor do they represent bland ideals. They emerge from the compulsion to make visible, beyond simple expression, the existence of an inner world, from which to make sense of the outer world. As Carl Jung put it, “who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes”. The compositions include elements of identifiable reality but are not merely facsimile versions of the reality we already see and photograph. They are windows from a place within, and they employ the parallel to make sense of the actual.
Da Vinci meticulously observed and recorded the natural world, and notably the human form, recording his findings in sublime drawings. In their own way, these paintings attempt to anatomise and reassemble the outer world that binds us in form. They conjure a hybridised vision of the whole through an internal filter of imagination, as opposed to merely reflecting a fragmentary part. They culminate in the creation of a meeting point between inner and outer worlds that reaches out like a bridge to the viewer. Through the clarity of this interconnected state, a fresh reality is conjured that is sometimes inviting, at once familiar and alien. Vision hangs in the balance of a throw of the die, as mind seeks reconnection, on a higher plane of knowledge, to wisdom.
Exhibition opens 21st November 2014 – 18th January 2015, by appointment only.
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