Fragments of thought hang like mobiles in the air – David Thomas
The paintings seem to make themselves. There is no totally anticipated result. They do what they like. I collaborate, intervene, participate from a distance, but it's not always easy. They tell me what to do, where to look and how to proceed. It's a symbiotic relationship – the work needs to be fed and I need to be surprised.
The processes can be important. The idea of the 'paintskin' process ... presented the possibility of a different kind of social field metaphor - the paradox or contradiction of painting conventions; exploring the 'other' side, transparency, layering, elasticity, margins turn into the center.. The paintings appear to be abstract (whatever that is). Literal representation is rare. I would like to think that this is an ambiguity that creates freedom for interpretation.
In the prehistoric caves of southern France, elegant representations of animals are juxtaposed with what appear to be signs... abstract, geometric, ambiguous. At Lascaux, coloured quadrilaterals of horizontal and vertical lines are juxtaposed like footnotes below the parade of beasts. Curiously, some signs seem to be iconic across completely unrelated cultures. For example, the concentric circles, hands, spirals - in indigenous Australia's oldest art, in prehistoric Ireland or South America. Anthropologists often refer to these kinds of signs as 'entoptic'... an aspect of our neurology of vision rather than something culturally acquired.
At the cave of Gargas in the French Pyrenees, hundreds of handprints ornament the walls. The hands have fingers missing. A code? A four-digit system... they all have thumbs. The purpose is lost...yet it still retains the sense of signifying meaning - Is there an older or more powerful image than the human hand?
These recent works attempt to link to an ancient painting tradition. Organic forms coexisting with abstract geometry. The search is for uniquely human visual qualities... celebrating our commonality, our pleasure and curiosity for puzzles, for pattern, structure, and symmetry. In these paintings the lost fingers of Gargas have pushed through the walls into the future.
Paul Hoban, July 2005