Texts and Essays

Memory Clouds

The emotional sensation conjured up by memory has been the subject of my exploration over the last three years. I have used cloud forms to portray those sensations through the materiality of paint. Cloudscapes with their ever changing forms from soft fluffy shapes to threatening cumulonimbus towering over the land has enabled me as a painter to find a unity in the emotional polarities experienced between states of turbulence and serenity.

Like many artists, the depiction of light has been an ongoing concern within my practice. Light is important to us all, it draws us in. It is wired into the human psyche going back to prehistoric time. Light acts as a conduit, a passage out of the dark. The experience of seeing light breaking from behind a cloud or shimmering like sapphires across the water has the effect of drawing us in, filling us with a sense of wonder and enchantment. The light, the dim and the dark evoke memories conjured up in remembering events that experience etches on our lives.

Clouds and weather have influenced writers and artists over the ages. Romantic poets were happy to wander with Wordsworth "lonely as a cloud", others like Shelley wished to sublimate himself into a cloud. German artists were more robust in their approach to weather; Casper David Friedrich's 'Wanderer' looks up into the infinite depths of the sky and gazes down at the dense fog of the world's intellectual life. Chinese and Japanese artist's depicting clouds sought to find a union between two anti-thetical emblems. "The union of the brush and the ink is that of Yin and Yang" ref1.
The image of a cloud formation enables me to depict the veering from one emotional polarity to another. In my paintings whether depicting a dark apocalyptical anxiety or calm serenity, I pose the question, is it the same for you the viewer? Do you have these emotional polarities?

Of course, the irony today is that in our digital age, memories of millions may be stored in the ether aptly named the iCloud, as opposed to the reality, which is this data, is stored in a gigantic warehouse in California. The only feature the warehouse has in common with a cloud is the colossal consumption of electricity!

In finding a space away from the LED-lit visual bombardment of our screen-based lives, I seek to find a space to be, a place where the materiality of paint and the human hand-print may remind the viewer; to look away from their screen now and then and enjoy the pure aesthetic pleasure to be derived from the ever-changing spectacle of passing clouds. Or as the monk Huaisu (eighth century) did, which was to look up and "It was while watching the summer clouds glide by on the wind, suddenly seized upon the idea of the brush and obtained Samadhi (ecstacy) from ink" ref2.

 

Reference 1: Theory of /Cloud/ Toward a History of Painting, Hubert Damisch P.215, Stanford UP 2002

Reference 2: Quote taken from Theory of /Cloud/ Toward a History of Painting, Hubert Damisch P.222, Stanford UP 2002