There is a moment, when the wind stops, the trees are still, and the world breathes in and slowly out in the softest way, a state of grace. Every culture calls it something different, a sportsman will talk of being in the zone, where every movement is perfect, floating above the turmoil of the game, a state of grace, flow. The Japanese might say that you have reached a tenuous moment where there is a profound awareness of the entire universe, evoking inexplicably deep feelings, too mysterious for words. “Yugen is like an extension of awareness, the aesthetic perception which allows us to conceive of the vastness of the universe- but suggests an inconceivable mysterious realm. The feeling of Awareness is induced by confrontation to the brevity of life, and yugen is initiated from the awareness that even ‘aware’ itself is an ephemeral thing.”(Zeami Motokiyo)
The three artists in this exhibition are working in this numinous space, searching for the flow, where they are stretched yet still. Each one works in broadly abstract terms, but from quite distinct perspectives. Loki explores purely abstract non-figurative imagery where we resonate with the canvas and are drawn into the stillness of vibrating colours; Jill is working with fragile, ephemeral sculptural creations, at the edge of disintegration-almost dust and Ben works with abstraction and fluid paint pours but also includes strong figurative elements in his imagery which ground his work. All three are at an intersection where there are strong affinities and resonances with one another’s creative work but also each stand alone to explore a “mysterious realm”.
The disintegration of material into the formless, entropy of dust highlights Jill’s interest in the miraculous accident of life and its terrible fragility, perilous, transienceand precarious hold on being. She uses books to represent the sum of human knowledge and then in a similar fashion as a ceramicist consumes them in controlled firing in a kiln. The result is a series of lyrical, magically frail memento mori, which defy gravity and seem to hold, impossibly, against the pull of time and even the air.
Loki uses the pour of paint onto large-scale canvases, forming energetic vortices that fall away and curl through the painting and back out with a rush past the viewer. There is a sense of the in-breath followed by a slow outpouring and exhalation. These works are meditative, striving to describe an indescribable state of mental stillness and harmony just set at that instance when awareness breaks into a reverie.
Similarly Ben is working at a threshold of another sort of flow, witness to transformation of formal but fluid shapes and ideas of liminal spaces in-between perception and cognition; those dreamy hypnogogic shapes that loom up in our mind’s eye before we sleep. Although abstraction underpins these paintings they are grounded by the floating, figurative forms.
All three artists reflect on the transitory moment when either transformation or dissolution might occur, an emotional still point, a yearning perhaps or the perfect moment when there is a deep largely inarticulate pleasure in the moment. They all strive towards describing the indescribable
“To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill, to wander on in a huge forest without thought of return, to stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands, to contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds”