WOOD LOVE SOME SPACE
Humanity’s struggle for existence and supremacy has shaped our relationship with nature and its forces. We observe and experience them with awe and fear. Yet, at the core of these emotions there is a stubborn curiosity, a need to understand and to make sense. In the uterine stages of our understanding we made deities of the elements of the natural world. We strove to adore and appease the divinties that made our existence possible. Even at such an early point we understood that the world around us could take away as suddenly as it gave. Thus the sun and moon, the mountains, the rivers and the woods became spirits to be revered. To understand Nature we looked beyond it, we transcended our natural state to search for meaning. Nevertheless, the Socratic “Know thyself” would lead to interrogation of those very beliefs which had hitherto given comfort to human existence. At least, some doubted, some asked.
It was the search for understanding and meaning that planted the seeds of doubt. The recurring question concerned the search for origin and true meaning. In other words, the fulcrum of belief in the physicality of nature became a search for a Design. And the logical consequence of that search was: Who was the Designer? The Platonic Forms became god or gods; Aristotelian logic brought forth the need to understand, to dissect, to analyse: to biology, to physics, to mathematics.
The search for a Designer and the ideal Design was a perilous one. To try and peek through the cracks of the physical world was to incur the wrath of the Designer. Yet man’s urge ‘to see’, ‘to understand’, was a force more powerful than fear.
Understanding means seeing – seeing well – through a selective and creative process which attempts to organise the physicality of the world into flowing structures that might provide meaningful signs. The basic forces of nature, the very space they occupied, and the idea of movement are all an integral part of this attempt to understand – to see more than that which is immediately and superficially perceivable.
It is in this context that the works presented here should be read. In some ways they can be envisioned as a return to the primeval search for meaning. My search, however, is not for a Prime Mover; it is that of my relationship with the forces of nature. More particularly, what has concerned and worried me has been the idea of unity. How can there be order from seemingly different elements? How does this order lead to life? These questions provide the path to go beyond that which we immediately perceive and live by. The existential quest for understanding is a universal one: other planets may nurture, or may have nurtured life. After all, at least some of the elements found in the physical environment of the planet earth are also found elsewhere. Hence, there could be life, maybe not the life of living things on Earth but perhaps some other form.
These are the problems which the works presented here attempt to tackle. Fully aware that there is no one answer, perhaps no answer at all, there is the urge to try to see, to understand. This is the unstoppable burden of the thinking human being.
The recurring theme is the encounter with being and, more particularly, with the relationship of my being with the natural environment.
The medium also deserves a mention; as Marshall Mcluhan asserts, ‘the medium is the message’. The use of wood carbon is itself an analogy of my search: wood (and hence carbon) provides fire and provided (and, to some, still provides) shelter. At the same time wood is nature. Whether we acknowledge it or not, wood in its living form is vital for our survival.
One consequence of the use of carbon is the colour black. This is only, and simply, the result of the use of carbon. My fascination with cosmology makes recourse to black logical. In the cosmos, the mysterious dark matter and dark energy constitute the largest proportion of the total mass of the universe. This massive blackness is reflected in my bold mysterious drawings. The mythical places that have been created attempt to reconcile the physical and the mental spaces. This myth acts as substitute – perhaps a panacea – for the absence of the genuine, ultimate knowledge. In the same way that prehistoric beings sought answers to their questions in nature, so also in my work I have sought to portray, if not explain, the unknowable in nature. This is but the commencement of a discourse, one that, as Roland Barthes would say, finds its origin in myth. And so, just as humanity has sought to make light of the ignorance with which we are handicapped, so have I sought to create meaning in the dark carbonic depictions in these works.
“What is to give light, must endure burning” Victor E. Frankl
Exhibition: WOOD LOVE SOME SPACE 2015/2016 / Art..e Gallery, Victoria, Gozo, Malta