Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ecdysis - the retablos of Mariana Alzamora

The global technological age in which we are either willing or unconscious participants has created a contradictory situation; on the one hand the old social structures are increasingly fragmented while on the other a new cohesion is growing out of the internet and its accessories. Contemporary Art attempts to reflect this new situation and the political issues and illusions it has given birth to.
Human beings are in a constant state of coming into being; pressures from without affect the individual and collective pysche and are expressed through attitudes and behaviour. The role of the artist is to throw light on this process and its inherent dialectic and then, through the manipulation of material, point towards transcendance. In this sense art is therapeutic, didactic and progressive.
In this series of Retablos Mariana Alzamora investigates the theme of personal transformation; hence the title of this exhibition, Ecdysis, which describes the casting off of an outworn and constrictive skin to allow for growth. The metaphor is apt; everything she creates
is related to her own experience but at that deep level which ensures its universality. It is appropriate that she uses the retablo as a container for her vision since traditionally it is a piece of sacred furniture situated behind an altar to illustrate some aspect of the divine. These beautifully constructed boxes contain the parables of spiritual evolution, yet while they are explicit - the body hovering over the cast off skin, the broken wing , the stages of our physical life - they operate beyond the territory of rational explanation and her gifts as a constructor carry them into the powerful domain of poetry.
A great deal of present day Art reflects on the ills that surround us rather than dealing with those underlying fears that prevent us from challenging the root causes of the problem. In doing so it merely supports a feeling of virtuous negativity that leads nowhere and in fact causes a deeper sense of imprisonment. The work of Mariana Alzamora deliberately contradicts this tendancy, it shows us that we need not accept the constraints of accepted belief but be prepared to shed our skin and be faithful to our particular destiny.
The exhibition 'Ecdysis' opens on the 3rd of September at GalerĂ­a Sa Tafona, La Residencia, Deia
at 8.00 pm and continues until the 15th of September.

Ecdysis - The Retablos of Mariana Alzamora

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Womb-life grey

Flash from the flame to the flame then

Laced with the fire of stress

'Ecstacies' - a new book from Sinclair's Press.

This loose leaved book with eight etchings was inspired by the first eight stanzas of Gerard Manley Hopkin's poem 'The Wreck of the Deutschland' and can be viewed by visiting the Sinclair's Press website at

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Eyes closed, eyes wide open

The composer's eyes are firmly closed; turned inwards, they refuse the distraction of sight. For him the trees, the bushes and the winding paths of the Luxembourg Gardens don't exist; He's intent on listening to his inner voice. It's October and I'm passing the time between a visit to the Zadkine Museum and a dealer in Rue Echaude. The bronze bust of Beethoven by Bourdelle .... I take his likeness on trust as I do Caesar's but only because I come to his greatness and suffering as I do the latter's martial grandeur with the preconceptions that their fame has fostered. There's such severity in his expression, a denial of ephemeral matters that is the hallmark of genius. He strains to transcend the boundary imposed by his deafness to create a dissonance that will break through the platitudes of his time.
The old painter's eyes are wide open, they gaze at you and through you. On the other side of the high vaulted room is his painting of blind Homer clothed in gold. Saskia is long since dead and Rembrandt will outlive his son Titus and his beloved Hendrikje Stoffels. He has known great success and finally a crippling bankruptcy; markets have always been fickle and he invested badly and extravagently. He looks very old yet he's barely sixty. Just look at the way he's painted this penultimate self-portrait; the brushstrokes are so slight yet their effect tremendous. The painter's eye is deeper than the well of Democritus; it tells the density of his experience and a harder won acceptance.
Both Rembrandt and Beethoven saw things clearly. They didn't pass over the world's pain with easy idealism; instead they welded their personal struggle into a vision of Man's transformation. That's why both the bronze head in the Luxembourg Gardens and the painted image in the Mauritshuis are my particular beacons in these difficult times.

Maelstrom - oil on canvas