Tuesday, May 4, 2010

time to reflect...

'cross-sections of rainforest fruits' - Acrylic and ink on canvas, 90 x 120 cm

close up

'Continuum' - acrylic and ink on canvas, 90 x 90 cm

close up

I had time to take additional photographs on the weekend at the show at Embiggen in Noosaville.  I mentioned in this earlier post that much of the work for this show came about since starting the residency in February. Around mid March I was feeling very pressured to realise visually all this new imput from the seed lab and time in the gardens and researching. Hunkering down the weeks saw me leaving the studio less and less in order to make something of this 'stuff' -  bewilderingly fascinating 'stuff'!

I took the work to Noosa April 16th and left it in the capable hands of talented artist/ graphic designer/ bookstore proprietor Warren Bonett who made the curatorial decisions after I left.  Given the intensity of the month painting I was not 'seeing' the work and had run out of time to do linger over decisions. For this reason I was able to photograph work at leisure on Saturday afternoon and think a little more about what was there.

The top work and others in that vein had been kept aside in a separate area - a wise move with new work pursuing various tangents of thought. The 'Continuum' work was challenging to photograph due to the luminous pearlised sheen. The raised line of the continuous paint flow from a large syringe was one visual thread competing for attention with the submerged pale-coloured ground and white ink drawn cross-sections of rain-forest fruits.

A year long residency can seem indeed a generous amount of time... but often motifs and ideas I have worked with have taken months or years to evolve into fully resolved works as I am not replicating what I see but often slowly moving into a more intimate knowing of a way of seeing and thinking.

More images will be added to the studio archives blog here.

POSTSCRIPT: 5th May - Around three years ago I was working on this material below which may be viewed more easily if you click to enlarge. I was attempting to juggle teaching 4 days a week with part time post grad work. The balance was not right and medical issues prompted a timely full-stop to all that by November. These works on paper were what was coming through as the year evolved.

This is a closer look at the bottom row. The ideas ere bigger than my time or energy permitted exploring as large canvases although it may be evident the compelling nature of this work that was the flow on of an an extremely intensive 5 years of solo painting. My work in 2005 had been extremely structured and tight and exacting so these represented a seam (as in underground layer - like coal) that had always been there in my journals and art practice ...but a seam that I never ventured to paint up large and run with.

Illness may create a profoundly useful space for reflection ...I just remembered I called this post 'time to reflect' ... this added-on bit is the bigger story to the work Continuum. In a sense I have had a couple of years away from that previous intensity of focus on painting. Whilst not well I did mostly smaller works, working with ink often, and I certainly did not  get back to where I had left off till painting for this April show in terms of the flow of thought for the abstractions I had been attempting to give shape to. The other rich seam that I tapped of course is the seed  and pod forms... In 2006-7 I spent a lot of time in school libraries (in breaks) researching New Science journals and such points of departure. Obsessed with micro and macro realms, hidden structures, the idea of everything being made up of particles, the notion that one can peel away layer after layer of reality to get to an ever smaller living thing captured my imagination completely. Then the move to Brisbane where the surprise of the abundant vegetation fixed my attention on trees laden with seed pods everywhere I went...and the ground covered with pods spilling out seeds.  The link between the micro - macro thinking and the seeds merged during this first year in Brisbane - connecting as well with more pragmatic and everyday concerns about the future of biodiversity and seeds at the core of my personal focus.

above: working with paint from a syringe required speed and control. This work on paper had a wonderful raised line - unable to be seen here - a low relief surface so to speak - very tactile.

Above: Drawing with the left hand to music - using oil pastels and a large art journal. This is a discipline I have employed at times over years to get started again after breaks, and certainly in my classes and workshops in the last 20 or so years to get energy moving before facing the blank canvas. Whether working with children or adults it felt important to dedicate time to the deliberate intention of bringing one-self to a receptivity for complete presence of mind. When teaching I would watch the shift in focus and the readiness it produced - knowing this well from my own experience. Working with music in this particular focused way has always been intensely informing - adding an important layer to my mark-making and thinking around the work I've been doing. 
Rhythm and the animating force or pulse is a perennial theme  - long hours at the piano from age 8 till leaving home at 18 permeated my sensibility and desire for continued immersion in that now familiar  sense of rhythm and pattern, structure and formlessness, the palette of rich colours and moods found in discordance, syncopation and the subsequent resolving of tensions .... or not. Music was the substance that shifted me into a whole body experience of the rhythms at the core of the universe. And painting was they way I wanted to evoke what was felt and experienced.
Less and less time at the piano from my 20's on  pushed me to compensate through this different engagement with the music - seeing it as somewhat liquid world - fluid, ever-changing, pulsating...and drawing from that. Always the music had to be without lyric... classical, or world music, jazz...the genre less important that the place it could take me. All this other work has flowed from that.

below: 2007 - a work on this 'continuum' theme that was realised on canvas... 60 x 60cm . The photo is not aiding viewing this image ... but a bright note I am off to stay in Sydney for 5 days at the home where this painting hangs and will attempt a better photo with some details whilst there.

Sincere thanks to Altoon Sultan for generous and thought-provoking comments that prodded this quite timely reflection which I added on to the initial post. Altoon has an excellent blog Studio and Garden where she brings her maturity of vision to the everyday concerns of living well in the rhythm of the seasons and the relationship between studio and her world. Her work is held in eminent collections and she has continued to quietly unfold her vision throughout a long and significant career with great steadfastness and insight.


La Dolce Vita said...

oh Sophie, these are just magnificent! I love both of them. the pearlized sheen is just gorgeous in you Continuum and I can imagine how difficult it was to get a great photo, but these are really good!
and your rain forest fruits are yummy in texture and color, would love to see more! xo

Sophie Munns said...

La Dolce Vita,

lovely to hear from you as your day starts and mine ends....

Delighted to have your generously conveyed feedback Cat. You can probably sense I am starting to be able to stand back and take some of these works in a little better.
It was so rushed.. which is so not my preferred mode of making or showing work. But perhaps that is the very thing I needed.
I had this instinctive idea that if the residency was going to going to happen....a year would seem long but actually be so intense Id better really make a bold start so I would have something to pick up and work with all year...the deadline pushed me to commit something to canvas and deal with the results afterwards.

These two I was particularly uncertain about...so i am glad to note that they are not generating great tension in me for a start... that need to go work them over, change something quickly...add, subtract. they will get to just be.
Your words are appreciated Cat,
S xo

Altoon Sultan said...

I like the new direction of Continuum very much: it is somehow juicy and subtle at the same time. The sense of pattern is vivid, as it seems to go on outside the canvas, into the 'real' world. congrats!

Mlle Paradis said...

Hi Sophie! Yup I messed up yesterday. Anyway, I think you got the jist. Nice to see the paintings full frontal and closeup. The colored ones have that wonderful floatiness that I like in your work and seem to reference for me Australian indigenous art. The bottom ones I like best for the moment possibly cause I'm desperate for some wall paper that looks like this behind my bed? (Sorry to bring the tone down!)

Have a great time in Sydney (have I said that already) hope you'll have lots to tell us about when you get back!

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you for your most illuminating feedback Altoon. Your painters eye is great to have cast over this work. The desire and yet resistance to go off in this direction as been great ... enormous tension ... can I trust this thinking...this impulse...does it speak...or is it mute and decorative.

I left off writing this response and added a post-script as the thoughts were tumbling in inspired by your clear and concise seeing.

Much appreciated Altoon!

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks for the comments MP!
When you gave that considered response that you touch on here again I have been able to ponder that at length.... most helpful indeed.

Its curious how the fleeting response can still indicate certain things. I use both to gage what others see.

A wonderful australian writer I heard give a lecture on portraits remarked that he also applies a certain test to works of art where he glances back whilst leaving a room to see if the image tugs at him.
He was given to lengthy pondering on all things...but said this simple test had also caused him to think!

I will really enjoy the visit to Sydney -seeing some dear friends and family and some fav haunts!
see you next week!