A physiological development
Please note that this article, along with many others, were written months back. Because of this, the chronology is unknown. I wanted to just share some of it regardless. I hope you enjoy!
Last night at about 2:00am I looked at a recent painting of mine, hanging on the wall of my studio, shrouded in darkness. A flash of inspiration hit me and wrote down a simple note in my digital notepad: “Hot/cold. My art is about this. Next step.” Vague but at the same time, a distillation of something that had been hidden in plain sight.
For the past year, I have concerned myself with elements of light and dark. I’ve emphasised darker palettes, thinking often about the blue hour, about landscapes in lower-light situations. All the while, I have missed something fairly obvious: the significance of temperature permeating through my work.
My painting of early-2021 comprised of burnt umber, red ochre, Indian red, coupled with Paynes grey augmented with subtle green hues and heavier blues. The results were paintings that felt immensely warm - hot, even. In addition, although not quite relevant to this text, the compositional structures had a totemic and monolithic quality. These shapes mediate on the stone structures found in the rugged landscapes I was photographing and thinking about in Cornwall. And they also reflected certain theoretical trajectories pertaining to directness, essentiality, purity.
While there was an evident theme of temperature, I never directly grappled with ideas of hot and cold. It was an offshoot of a parallel, but ultimately distinct, pursuit. And yet here I am, in the latter half of 2021, realising newfound significance and relevance to this thematic concern.
The temperature of my early-2021 work led to a visceral aesthetic experience and this was one of its major strengths. There was something grounding and physical about the various nuances of heat, coupled with the shadowy, heavy structures I incorporated. This all but vanished as the summer months arrived.
Perhaps I am a seasonal painter after all. I have noticed that whenever the summer comes, my palette drops in temperature. Though, this does not always lead to light, cool paintings: this summer has resulted in dark, cool paintings. Looking at them now on my studio wall, they feel quite cold, and deceptively static.
The quality of movement, if there is any such quality to be said of these structural works, reflects the movement of a glacier over a millennia. If I were to imagine sounds that might accompany these works, I would be hard pressed to identify sounds more appropriate than those that come from glaciers cracking and grinding: a sublime, slow burning Haka produced by the earth’s natural rhythms.
But now as the months cool my mindset is shifting. I am starting to feel a physiological yearning for heat. These dark and cold paintings make me feel cold. I think they are effective because of this - you should not always feel as you wish to feel after seeing a painting. But I am struggling to continue on this thread. Only in a temporal sense, I should add. I need some contrast right now, but not indefinitely.
So I will set about revisiting the subject of heat, referring back to these rich palettes. I will, in conjunction, consider blending this heat with ideas of immense cold. This is the next step, one that is seemingly the product of my physiology, more than anything else.