Abstraction can have the power to reveal the sacred.
Abstract painting can be a simplification of reality or a way of revealing its most complex elements seen through the filter of the soul, outside of time and space.
Georgia O’Keeffe said the most important thing and artist can do is make their unknown, known. Each of us carries our own secrets, those things – and places – we hold sacred. Art, and less true of words, can both reveal and obscure. This is a gift allowing a connection between the maker and the viewer, because the viewer can see themselves, their sacred, within the work of the maker. Abstraction is taking the elements of realism and fragmenting them. They may or may not carry the structure of their inspiration, but only disrupted hints.
I watched a documentary a few weeks ago on the archaeoastronomy of Chaco Canyon in the desert Southwest, New Mexico. Pueblo Bonito, nearby structures and petroglyphs had precise alignments with the solstices and equinoxes, and the 18.5 year cycle of the moon. There are walls without shadows, and daggers of sunlight through a petroglyph spiral on the Summer Solstice. So many of these present, in one form or another, across the complex. I am fascinated by the complexity of the archaeoastronomy of ancient peoples after reading extensively on the cairns of Newgrange and the Boyne Valley in Ireland, and having visited the Great Pyramids in Egypt. There are many, many other sites around the world, each with their own distinct cultural purpose.
The images of Chaco Canyon, repeating forms, colours, and the movement of light stuck in my mind. I was haunted by them. However, there was something disturbing about this place – shards of darkness like the sharp edges of a cut crystal. It was a feeling of uneasy calm after something violent.
“Fragmented Boundaries” (top) went through many iterations, beginning with the simple repeating form of the wall, using additive and subtractive methods in mixed media. At one point, the piece came near oblivion, recovering by instinct rather and image.
I have come within 28 miles of Chaco Canyon, but I have never been. And yet, I feel a part of me has, on a level of presence that may only be an echo. I wonder how far we can travel in our dreams?