I should have realised that there just wouldn’t be time to complete a travel journal blog, given how much we were intending to do in the US in those 4 and a ½ weeks. What I also should have anticipated was that it would all go mad when we came home and had to get back into work and all the other mundane things that are part and parcel of normal life. I will over time post images of the trip to the US, but I think one of the most amazing things I have taken out of the US is inspiration from the art. There were so many galleries, and so little time. The surface was barely scratched, but that said, it started some new thinking, an exploration of graphic art and design, a clarity about my wish to express the chaos of depression and it’s affect upon my work.
Only one day was available to me to wander through Chelsea, going from gallery to gallery and “arting myself out” as we termed it. Even then, many of the galleries were in change over between exhibitions. I can only promise myself that I will go back again one day, when I have the money to. But even that short time made a difference to me, and I have come back quite changed from it, to see the Australian art world with very altered eyes. But that’s another story, and one as an artist not an art critic, I’m not so interested in telling. For me, what mattered were the works and the artists. The wonderful opportunity to go from door to door seeing something new everywhere. I didn’t like all of it, I wasn’t impressed by all of it, but I didn’t expect to be. The standard was incredible though, and the atmosphere of being in a place that was largely devoted to art: How wonderful is that?
Several contemporary artists deserve a mention on this blog, for being the ones which truly blew me away, that opened up my mind and sent it spinning back into the creative universe new and energised again! Here is a brief summary of a couple of them:
Those who have followed the development of my work know the special place that trees hold for me. These symbols of life, of roots, of time, are so precious to me and the way that I think. Their shelter, their transformations from the elements and because of fire and thanks to man, their wealth and cover, their starkness. All of these things, the different faces of a tree, who can but not look and wonder? Certainly not me.
In one Chelsea gallery, which had left me rather cold and uninterested, I dragged myself into the back exhibition space, with the thought that I shouldn’t leave a corner unlooked at just in case – and I saw my first Stephane Erouane Dumas. Then another, and another. I stood and stared. This one below was the particular one which made my soul leap:
Light, colour, temperature and season: The spirit of a tree. That was all contained in this beautiful, beautiful work. I was heartbroken to find that the gallery didn’t sell his catalogue, and that the previous catalogues of his work I couldn’t find for sale anywhere. Instead I console myself with regularly viewing his website, and the websites of galleries who show his work. Here are a few links to those for anyone who feels the same as I do, as well as a couple of images, just to give you a feel for his work.
Stephane Erouane Dumas
And from one tree to another – the works of Jiyong Park. Such a different, three dimensional representation. And so beautifully symbolic. These tiny metallic wire trees on their canvas, leaking green life onto the surface, reaching out and yet trapped in glass, their roots stretching down. I could have stood and stared at these forever. The reference in the title to this series was religious. It may be that they are representations of the fig tree as so famously told of in the bible. But that is not my interest in them.
For me it will remain a depiction of their elemental nature. Their poignancy and their presence. Their hothouse swinging in the breeze of the air conditioner. Their rise and fall on the shelves against the gallery wall, on the upturned glasses. This is what touched me and entranced me. What a wonderful exhibition.
Moving on from the 3d rendition of a lifelike object to the amazingly abstract pieces of the artist Kaloon Chhour. Vibrant, fascinating, intriguing and striking. Another I stood in front of and simply marvelled. I was lucky enough to pick up a book on this artist from the gallery and it was very interesting to see how his past and his culture has influenced his use of colour and the compositions. That understanding gives such a greater depth to what are just unbelievable abstract works. These are images that jump off the canvas and the page at you, the computer screen does not do them justice.
There were more artists and more wonderful experiences, but for now, these will suffice. I hope that they give you the pleasure they gave me.