Late summer's cave visit reflection / Newsletter #1
A bit of the sublime from a recent cave visit and a few paintings
Towards the end of August I found myself in a cave.
Being formed for about 8 million years into the limestone slopes of the Western Carpathian mountains by atmospheric water vapours, it still grows some of its stalagmites and stalactites while weathering others at a rate approximately 1 cm per one generous human life span (80 - 100 years). And that’s one of those very fast geological activities.
The tour of the cave lasted for about 50 minutes, and although it is too short to fully delve into the pores of the surrounding limestone, it still absorbs your perception, enhances senses and fills you with all those archetypal connections beyond human time.
Natural processes resulting in caves are so deeply intertwined with our psyche, perception and it all relates to painting on so many levels. From aesthetically fulfilling fascination with infinite natural compositions, shapes and variations of spaces to the feelings of simultaneous strength and fragility of the environment, caves can be ambiguously disorienting and play with your sense of scale, direction and time. It leads one into a deeper sense of immersion and sensations of something which was historically in the Western philosophy and art being explored as ’the Sublime’. The cultural ideas about what, how and when ’the sublime’ is or happens has changed and has been challenged over the centuries through the writings of Edmund Burke, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche to name just a few ‘big ones’. And it continues to be explored in all of its shades and forms.
Yet and still, the ever changing concept and context of sublime, with all the multitude historical and contemporary interpretations of it, seems to forever fascinate when experienced (rather than solely read about). It eludes us and thus keep its relevancy to our existence.
There are many links to painting from the material side as well. Many of the pigments have their origin in grinding stones, minerals and soils. If we stretch it a little, a subtle alchemical shift is taking place in the form or nature to culture transition. I enjoy this contemplative side of my art practice as it has a liberating effect and opens new ways of looking and relating to the world around.
This small excursion to a limestone cave reminded me of a few of my smaller canvases from a couple of years ago (see below). I was exploring a threshold where brushwork which can be simultaneously seen both for its intrinsic properties and for its ability to imply fictive spaces.
And lastly, this larger painting titled ‘Out of Nowhere’ from the same year (2020) is to be shown at upcoming edition of Art Vienna at Schönbrunn Castle from 16th to 18th September 2022.
What’s on, what’s upcoming and where to find it:
Current: Group exhibition at Amart Galerie in Vienna (extended until 24th September) titled Vorsicht Farbe (translates as Beware Colour)
Current: BEEP Painting Biennial at Elysium Gallery in Swansea (until 10th September)
The 2022 Biennal is titled Nothing has changed, everything has changed
Upcoming: Art Vienna - International Art Fair with Amart Gallery, 16th - 18th September 2022, Schönbrunn Castle, Vienna