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Art visualises metaphysics

Tears in the Rain, illustrates my approach to visualising metaphysics, the stuff of our lives.

In the film “Bladerunner“, Roy Batty at the end of his short life says

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion… I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain… Time to die.”

This C-Beams speech is a monologue described by some as the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history.

Perhaps our lives are lived to be remembered as tears in the rain. Yet, like Batty, we all want to make our mark on existence, and see the world through our own eyes. To be, and to be seen to be.

Tears in the Rain (Bladerunner), Tremblay 2021 Acrylic on canvas, 50 cm x 40 cm

Art visualises metaphysics is our life’s journey.

My art depicts the navigation of the human experience through our life’s journey. In so doing I try to give visual force to the metaphysics of our existence.

Aristotle said of our senses:

All men [sic] by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing … to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things. Aristotle Book 1 of his Metaphysics.

We are not isolated from each other, but part of a whole. This defines us uniquely as able to contemplate ourselves and not merely react to the external world.

I explore our metaphysical senses in three ways designed to elicit our own emotional and intellectual response to each piece.

One approach is to view the painting as a ‘place marker’ for something else. This is to consider the painting more like a symbol of something, perhaps a living spirit, (our own?). When we gaze upon them, there may be a perception of some transfer to energy as we react to or view the painting. Maybe this is just a way of reminding us of our place in the world and there there may other realms of human experience. Imagine, all that from a painting!

A second approach draws on this well known comment by Wittgenstein:

Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” (Tractatus 7)

There are many things of which we cannot speak, which are either hard to speak of, or where we simply lack the words. Paintings of this sort try to capture the ineffable, that which isn’t but actually is, we just don’t know how. But a painting can help us visualise that for which we lack words. We often use the word ‘thing’ when we are actually at a loss for the name of something, or a similar word for person whose name we’ve forgotten. In some ways, things like this are on the way to being named, and hence tamed by our own personal sense of order. When we look at abstract art, our brain kicks into gear to try to make sense of the images, creating associations real sense, but we lack ways of articulating that ‘thing’. We are silent as we endeavour to decode, make sense of, or place in our reality, some’thing’ that isn’t yet named.

My third approach views abstract art as Zen: it tries to empty you of preconceived notions, indeed, to remove our sense of self, as abstract art lacks the usual reference points which we use in navigating the real world. The real world is full of objects and we of course are objects for each other. The problem of ‘other minds’ is whether the world is simply a fiction of my own mind and that there isn’t anything ‘out there’. Is an abstract painting out there or in my head? But reaching to the ultimate reality of objects is mediated by how our senses tell us what is there and how we construct the world through language (whether words or mathematics) or our imagined view of the what our senses and imagination tell us,

An abstract painting which is a picture of ‘nothing’ as some say, is now something as it has a reality as it hangs on the wall. Is it no longer abstract, but now a picture of ‘something’?

The three works below explore the questions Are paintings alive? These paintings energise the notion that paintings might have a type of personality.

Mitchell in his What Do Pictures Want observes that paintings force a shift in our relationship to the art. Indeed, the painting may embody the female gaze. Or the ‘feeling painting’.

Graw speaks of paintings as ‘quasi-persons‘, that they may actually be projecting an active presence.

I like to think my paintings bring into existence a new type of life form, the ‘painting’ with which we may choose to have a relationship. Paintings announce their presence and speak. And we may ‘feel’ what we see.

Hanging such a painting in your house is like a new person joining the household.

What if it hangs in the bedroom — becoming part of that intimacy?