“It is to be remembered that all art is magical in origin - music,
sculpture, writing, painting - and by magical I mean intended to
produce very definite results. Paintings were originally formulated
to make what is painted happen. Art is not an end in itself, any
more than Einstein’s matter-into-energy formulae is an end in itself. Like all formulae, art was originally FUNCTIONAL, intended to make things happen, the way an atom bomb happens from Einstein’s formulae.”
― William S. Burroughs
FIELD GUIDE TO ELSEWHERE
The Tibetans have a different notion of the word “ornament” than we do in the West;
thangka paintings have titles like “The Ornament of Liberation” and “The Ornament of Clear Realization”. Instead of being evocative of the superficial, decorative, or merely sensual, it is a concept aligned with profound wisdom and seeing clearly, and the experience of splendor.
In these paintings the delicious muckiness of embodiment alternates with the ephemeral flux of dissolution and change. The celestial and the lumpy coexist happily here, vaporous swatches pierced by ornamental exuberance.
Folios of Persian miniatures were once prized possessions that were carried by the rulers during war into the tents and battlefields. It was said that to them, handling these treasures in such rugged, bleak terrain must have been comparable to strolling in one of their lovingly tended gardens. It’s a powerful idea this, the artwork as oasis, an alternative manual to the heat and paradox that is physical existence.
I want elements of these images – chunks of paint, hints of dakinis, tantric minimalism, vapors and washes – to seem as if they arose spontaneously, possibly contradicting and critiquing each other, yet somehow cohering as a whole before dissolving back into a sort of ecstatic non-being. I embrace Foucault’s heteropic spaces, Dr. Seuss, the intricacies of hyperbolic space, outsider physics, Emma Kunz and Hilma Af Klimt.
Painting has an ability to open up alternative visual experiences that can specifically align us with internal spaces, altered states of consciousness, euphoria, complexity, and the unpresentable. Abstraction, especially, is an expert intermediary, translating the nonverbal and not quite visible realities into perceivable, material form. Paintings can function as runners between realms, physical and philosophical both. There’s work to do here for paintings, for images.
No above, no below,
Neither existence nor non-existence
(from the Creation Hymn of the Rg Veda)