How Small a Thought (2017)

How small a thought it takes to fill someone’s whole life! Just as a man can spend his life traveling around the same little country and think there is nothing outside it! You see observing in a queer perspective (or projection): the country that you keep traveling round strikes you as enormously big; the surrounding countries all look like narrow border regions. If you want to go down deep you do not need to travel far; indeed, you don’t have to leave your most immediate and familiar surroundings.

Ludwig Wittgenstein,  Culture and Value (1946)

I first came across Wittgenstein’s aphorism through Steve Reich’s 1995 choral work, Proverb. Reich uses the first sentence for his text, “How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life!”. I was struck by the connection between, Reich’s composition, Wittgenstein’s text and my practice. All three emphasize intense, singular and sustained focus. I am attempting to materialize a unified experience of the feeling of time passing, while it constantly slips away. Through the process of painting, I experience a different temporal flow. I take the time to look and look again. With a measured slowness I attempt to ascertain the feeling of time passing. In order to go down deep I do not stray from the immediate and familiar process of painting the lemons. I   investigate two related objects: the passage of time and the genre of still life. Traveling around the limited terrain of the painting process, I add circles, grids and lines in colours drawn from my perceptual visual experience of the everyday. Thus my research, studio practice and daily life are deeply connected in this project.

 

Photos: Elise Windsor

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Time, give me the secret (2012-ongoing)

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My process involves creating limiting systems within which I can freely generate many versions of the same image (or related images). My projects are long-term. For example, Time, give me the secret has been ongoing since 2012. The project began with me painting three lemons from life, using a limited range of straight-from-the-tube colours. The original idea for the project is that each painting stores embodied time in gestural brushstrokes. Over time, I have built a personal visual vocabulary of shapes that relate to one another. and to my thinking about time consciousness.

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Planting

In September 2016 I made multiple drawings of the same plant that was in an apartment I sub-let for the month. The plant was in poor health but I managed to bring it back to life. Every day I spent a great deal of time looking at the plant, then drawing it in different ways. It became a meditative practice during which time slowed down.

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Consideration

Rufus Stone Residency, London, January 2015

Consideration

1. Careful thought, typically over a period of time: a long process involving a great deal of careful consideration; a fact or a motive taken into account in deciding or judging something: the idea was motivated by political considerations; thoughtfulness and sensitivity toward others: companies should show more consideration for their employees.

2. a payment or reward: you can buy the books for a small consideration.

3. Law (in a contractual agreement): anything given or promised or forborne by one party in exchange for the promise or undertaking of another.

4. archaic importance; consequence.

Over the course of the project, I meet with various individuals, both friends, and strangers. They prepare or buy me a beverage or  a meal. I give them  a portfolio of small watercolour paintings I have made specifically for the project. We spend time discussing our work (art and non-art labour) considering the context of the political economy. What value does our work hold in material and abstract terms, to ourselves and to others? What is the value of our time? Of our lives?