PARADISE IS CHANGING
The epochal and transforming convulsions in the shape of our world is causing ruptures in civilization. The ice flows are breaking up, the earths plates are shifting and clutching together to form something new. But what is happening to us? History is being re-written.
When our world changes so do human dreams, our vision of paradise is transformed by the swelling sky. The air tastes different, birds flock south to a different home, flowers grow from uncommon rocks, fish spawn in unknown rivers.
Cascading corridors line the ridges of the deep, and its endless volcanic reach into the dark pushes up the ancient into something new. History is being re-written in our minds, conclusions are unfinished, but its images in nebulous states provide omens of the coming reformation.
Now the fluidity of form, now the ambiguity of edge, now the indecision of matter and the stretching fabric of existence.
Heroes taste tomorrows plunder on the grass and its speculation morphs their vision of Elysium.
Waves make up for boundaries unresponsive containment of our thoughts, it all comes flooding out in pulses of feeling and we stand in awe at the charge of a new being.
Paradise is changing.
There is a lot of focus in our media about the changes occurring out in the world. But as with all cultural revolutions there are changes which occur within, these changes are not always visible unless manifested by man, they first take root in the man’s dreams in the unknown parts of his psyche. There is a same convergence in acting, between one’s inner life and the tangible world. The thoughts that speak through the quietest of moments. Sometimes these two elements in art are at odds but when wholly aligned they create a rupture in the cultural establishment. Art in many ways forms that connection and creates a channel to Elysium.
In this way, with the mass adoption of digital assets there has come about a need for them to be connected to something of this world, something substantial.
The rise of abstraction has its roots deeply felt in American 20th Century art, Abstract Expressionism championed by its guru, the art critic Clement Greenberg who felt that aesthetics should stand alone from any representation, and this pure abstraction according to Greenberg exists within a void of pure aesthetic experience, untethered to the manifested world. This undefinable thing which spoke to the beauty of our dreamscape ultimately ran its course. Once Pop Art and Conceptual Art took this to its ultimate conclusion of “anything can be art”, producing less than desirable results, as the Emperor without clothes was exposed bare. However, the abstract tradition endless when taken to another conclusion, that anything could be transformed by a fine art tradition led to the far more interesting, tangible and radically transformative conclusion that Chaseling arrives at and continues to move through that abstract landscape revealed new unexplored human potentialities. That moment of becoming which once gave rise in the Romantics or that religious experience manifested in the Renaissance was then possible in a new view of nature. A world in transfiguration, a new paradise in flux.
Elysium is forced into a changing of the guard in nature’s equilibrium. Man’s introjection to the balance of this world is a catalyst to an unknowable conclusion, or a continuous state in a new epoch. Radiation, mutation of landform, perspective, ways of seeing are potent in Chaseling’s vision, seen through the lens of a new view of time. Paradise in pulsating rhythms.
I first started buying Bret Bailey paintings when I was 14 years old, he would come over to our place in Canberra with his pipe and discuss oriental philosophy with me for hours, often mixing in his adventures in the military in China. His deeply authentic perspective as a Westerner whose world was completely changed by the oriental way of seeing the world, it reminds me of the philosopher Alan Watts; “You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave us continuous with the ocean”.
Watts and the American guru Ram Dass had a profound affect on the Californian culture, which really took root in the 70s and now has firmly grown into the infrastructure of the Californian psyche with its legacy of yoga, organic foods, alternative medicine and Buddhist practices. It's hard to imagine Los Angeles without this confluence of cultural practices. Realizing man’s connection to nature, Brett Bailey unites the East and West ways of being with veracity, as the hero walks through Elysium in Verto.
My first memory of art, walking through the living room in my home in Bath at three years old. To an open door on my right typing persistently away in what was later to be described to me by his closest friends was an unrelenting tapping, as my father sat his typewriter. The study was littered with books, from floor to ceiling, strewn across the floor in a frantic manner, much like what I later found to be his style of writing. Which encompassed a huge broad range of thought mostly circulating his inner social group of art world intelligentsia in England.
Next door was my mother’s studio, big windows opening up onto the garden, a flame of red curls that was her hair, would lash across the space as she carved out some new figure from stone or cast. The studio was always covered in plaster and rusted tools that she kept on workman’s table tops away from tiny hands. Out poured relics of the myth of my childhood, the vanitas objects of meaning, the symbols of life and death, Memento Mori.
When she transitioned to the brush it was an event, not just because her sculpture had become rarer still, but because it was a reshaping of her vision into a new medium. The landscapes and natural Australian forms of her past now took their shape in pigment and movements of color. Following on from the post-impressionists and the fine art tradition pursuing man and woman’s search for beauty.
These new flower paintings, not unlike Bacon, are almost figurative pieces, the flower represented in its singularity as having a personality. When Van Gogh painted his flowers he was said to be painting at the manic rate of around three paintings a day, in all states of blossoming and wilting, on the edge of death, grasping onto the preciousness of life. The way these two artists see the world comes out in this same kind of paradox, this obsession with life and death fuels them to master their craft. For Burns these flowers have a life beyond a pleasing decorative object, but a part of this ecosystem, and more like something fundamental to our planet. That is both fragile, necessary and constantly changing.
I’ve always been attracted to Bacon as an actor for his raw human emotion as a painter, expressing the human form in Verto, in a dimension of sexual, physical, emotional disruption.
"It's true to say when you paint anything you are also painting not only the subject but you are also painting yourself as well as the object that your trying to record" - Francis Bacon
He said in an interview once that he always wanted to be a filmmaker, but finances got in his way. Which is ironic as his portrait of fellow figurative painter Lucian Freud went on to sell for a record $143M in 2013. Much of the time Bacon painted from photographs which he would cut up and distort and then put back together, almost similar to the editing process.
Roughness, adrenaline, immediacy are all vital parts to an actor's craft. An actor has only their humanity to bear, it's all they have to offer, even in the flesh, skin deep, blood flowing moment the actor finds their true self and that is what they bring to the world. Immediacy and spontaneity are key aspects to Bacon's work. In acting there is a necessary ugliness, not in order to shock but in order to reveal, the best actors are emotionally naked, they've put themselves bare faced onto the world's stage, their ideas, their feelings and their unique individual song and if they've stayed the course they've been subject to all the ridicule the Western world has to offer in its competitive nature and still they stand in front of the camera lens, brave and naked. Daniel Day-Lewis said that it is "very hard to have any dignity as an actor" though he has tried for both, and in contradiction has revealed his soul through the life of another. There's this idea that actors are like meat puppets or narcissists, and all that they say is in order to sell themselves, and yes indeed the profession does attract many people like this, but the truly great actors know that there is not enough of their own humanity to bear to fill the void of the swelling mob as they seek love in another, and humility in the face of this is their only option, a constant, unending sacrifice of dignity, all the while struggling to pick it back up. I feel this same dichotomy is present in Bacon's pictures and in our relationship to sexuality.
An actor friend told me recently that I maintain a kind of stoic position to life in spite of it all, I feel in full consideration of the moment of death it becomes very difficult not to value the preciousness of life. "It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live” - Marcus Aurelius. Bacon had much the same outlook when he suggested to David Sylvester that life life is so much sweeter to this who walk in the shadow of death because it can be taken away at any moment.
This raw animalistic instinct that Bacon’s work comes from is an expression of the vulnerability of people to their own nature and to nature itself, that our adaptation came not from our own design but by natures design for us, we adapted to this world, guided by our desires and our fears and impressions of feeling that we leave look like glimmers and ghosts. We chose this lithographs of Study for the Human Body from a Drawing by Ingres in particular as it is a beautiful example of Bacon’s human form transfigured.
We’ve selected a number of prints from transforming movements in art, which were created during, or expressive of, moments of great veto in history, out in the world and within man. Goya’s vision of the world transformed by the religious orthodoxy of the time. Powerful ideas, beliefs which verto his world and then the inner life of man, his fears and desires transformed. Kokoschka’s reimagining of the classic myth Odyssey, the epic adventure exploring new lands. Nolan’s feeling for his home country Australia, the beauty of the Antipodes and within it’s greatest rebel icon, Ned Kelly. Peter Howson’s dark and fleshy reimagining of the myth of humanity.
As our media and public figures have taken off in the digital realm, the peak of the intangible is near, real painters like these are becoming rarer and rarer, but those who have stayed the course will be there when the tide turns and it will turn.
I often use art in my work as an actor, I seek out works which will stimulate my subconscious in a particular direction. Sometimes these images can be disturbing if it's a thriller or a dark world the filmmaker is creating. Or for love I turn to the beauty of the post-Impressionists and Neo-Romantics. For my own life I want to be instigated by visions of paradise, not as an ultimate end but poetry in motion, each day is different yet spiralling upwards towards a spectre of hope. Pieces that affirm my world and my life are to be cherished in its state of flux, in Verto.
10 March 2018
4-6 pm Private View
6-8 pm Opening
709 N Ridgewood Place
Los Angeles CA 90038