an interview with Victoria writer, Rob Wipond
Q: Even though your paintings are abstract, I often feel like there are strong, meaningful connections between your paintings and the verbal titles you give them. How would you describe that connection? How do you come up with the titles to your paintings? Do you think the titles are important?
A: The best titles of the paintings emerge during the process of painting, a process that seems to occur between thoughts. Like meditation. The title is the only thought that filters up from the subconscious mind that I pay attention to and seems to be the verbal counterpart to the complete irrationality of abstract painting.
Q: Why do you describe abstract painting as "irrational"? What do you mean by that?
A: Abstract art happens contrary to reason, which is not to say that intelligence is not involved. It is a process of suspended judgement in the response to pure aesthetic impulse. It is spatial. intuitive, divergent and holistic as opposed to concrete, logical, convergent, and linear. Plus you have to go a bit nuts to produce a good abstract painting.
Q: Your answers seem to suggest that for you the process of painting, and your paintings themselves, are closely linked to certain ways of 'seeing' or 'experiencing' the world. For example, you talk about "suspending judgement" and not being "logical" in your approach. Can you elaborate more on this mental "space" you're describing, and why you think it's important? And do you think it's important for others to experience it too?
A: The mental space best suited to creating abstract painting is the self-given free permission to INTERACT with the canvas which is very much different than controlling the process and pre-defining a specific end point. It means operating without a plan ~ how scary! But expansive. The space is like free-fall in that you are rendered helpless, a slave to pure aesthetics. Much like Henry Miller writes, it is a visual form of stream of consciousness expression. Why do we need this? Lots of life is lived on mute, without mystery or magic and so to engage the viewer effectively is a chance for the viewer to be inspired. All great works of art inspire. So I aspire to inspire.
Q: What does it mean to be inspired, or to not be inspired in one's life? What is this thing "inspire" really which you're trying to inspire in others?
A: To be inspired means following a divine impulse of delight, "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower". I think inspiration can be communicated in creative work if you trust your intuition to ignite the fuse and open the door to a pacifistic state. Imagine a world lived in that state of peace, creativity, and wonder!
Q: Hey, how did this discussion turn political all of a sudden!? Seriously, this is an interesting twist that's come about. So can we complete the circle? So you would say that in some sense your painting is political, or "pacifist"?
A: The best art is only political to the degree that is has power, political in the old classical Greek sense in that it has a relationship to a population. It can move you! Personally I do not think overt political content comfortably belongs in fine art. So for me, I am free to enjoy the pure aesthetics of abstract painting.
Q: But you feel, or believe, the aesthetic experience of making or observing abstract art may be able to change us in ways that makes us better people, and by extension may contribute positively to a better society?
A: Definitely, any state of wonder produced by anything inspirational can expand our potential in physical, spiritual and intellectual ways. The flowering of society seems always to have meant that there is evidence and recognition of the highest achievements possible. Perfection is an ideal worthy of emulation.
Q My own experience of your paintings is that I often start by reading the title...start in for me a familiar, logical, grounded place...and then I look at the painting and I sort of slowly follow its contours until I lose grasp of them and evaporate into its softness and shapes and colours, in a sense going beyond my normal way of viewing. Would you say that is related to what you're trying to describe?
a state of wonder