The Self

This series that I have recently retitled ‘The Self’ remains the most enigmatic in my body of works. They were done in 1993 during my final semester at university. These creations had an unworldliness quality to them. It was an exploration so genuine because of its naivety, with the likelihood of occurring only once in this lifetime. Because I had so little understanding of my intensions, the content of the unconscious had the opportunity to freely present itself, and would over time spark an awareness of the existence of the essential Self.

What the original inspiration of these drawings share in common is an object being displaced from its natural conditions. The rugged rock found on the soft sand beneath the water, the delicate twig on the hard pavement, or the fallen tree branch stranded in a sea of grass. I came across these objects on my walks to, and from art school. Following my intuition I decided to honour these encounters as being of great symbolic importance. I trusted that they would unveil something more, perhaps a better understanding of my own relationship to the world. I collected the objects and returned to my studio to recreate similar still-life environments, to use as references for my drawings.

As these drawings painstakingly developed they seemed to take a direction of their own. They appeared to be further distancing the object from the natural world from which they had fallen, or perhaps more rightly, were returning to their true home being at one with everything in the cosmos. The backdrops, the original environment in these still-lives, gradually became less and less specific, disintegrated into something far less physical. For example the rock underwater, eventually appeared almost more like an asteroid in space, or the fallen branch transforming the grass into an emanating field of electrostatic energy. Perhaps what these drawing meant to express, is that even though seemingly out of place, at a much deeper level all things can be seen to be united through a simple relationship of matter and energy.

When looking at these works in retrospect, I also came to realize the significance of the drawings all being square with the object placed in the centre. It was only much later that I realized they were moreover functioning as mandalas. The healing power of the mandala comes from the distance to the centre-point being the same from all four sides. These simple compositions were guiding all attention to the centre, and therefore providing a sense of steadiness (within the world).

Concurrent to creating drawings I also did a set of more conceptually poetic pieces on black panels. In these works I wished to portray my interest in the marks left behind by activity in life. I was observing scratches on lacquered floors, or on windows riding buses at night, with the city lights being reflected by them. These scratches were the continually accumulating scars that are left behind, and they are the traces of life. When an artist friend of mine saw the black panel pieces he commented that their relationship to the drawings wasn’t strange at all. Where the drawings depicted an object in a field of energy, the scratched panels were simply the fields of energy sans object.

This early series, an exploration of symbolic self-portraiture, remains to me, a testament of the guiding principal of the Self. The Self, ever present, responds to the dedicated inquiry into the greater mysteries of life and oneself, through a chosen practice (such as art), and directs one to their true home.

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