Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reflecting Space: Mathieu Weemael's contemplative paintings and pastels

Visited Mathieu Weemaels today to plan the visiting artist's show for next October in The Greene Gallery at St John's.   

We had an interesting discussion exploring themes whilst selecting works for the show.


The recurring mirror motif provides the illusion of an extension of space forwards into the depth of the painting while simultaneously seeming to reflect back into the apparent space of the viewer. At the same time the rectangular frame of the mirror and its flat surface is a metaphor for painting itself as an illusion of reality. In these reflections on interior and exterior space the artist and the viewer negotiate  open and closed forms. The rounded tea bowls, bottles, jars and strewn flowers on tables or chairs and the light from an open window or door, all suggest or imply the human presence.  The balance of complementary colours and carefully calibrated muted chromatic greys and browns frame the occasional sparks of intense colour which focus the eye in the dream like soft contemplative silence of the abstracted geometry of these related forms in space.  Single tea bowls, suggesting the intimacy of cupped hands, progress to more complex compositions in which the relationship between various elements and motifs, suggesting a metaphysics of time and space, are explored in series. In the larger paintings the great dome of the infinite blue sky seen through the branches of the tree canopy seems to be the very antithesis of the small white bowls whose finite form is defined by the same emptiness. 

Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form is not other than emptiness. I the same way, feeling, discrimination, compositional factors, and consciousness are empty. Sariputra, in that way all phenomena are empty, without characteristic, unproduced, unceased, stainless, not stainless, undiminished, unfilled.  

'The Heart Sutra Explained. Indian and Tibetan Commentaries'  Donald S Lopez. State University of New York Press. 1988

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