Ancient Elements, 36 x 36, Mixed Media, 2008
This piece was inspired by the Ancient Greek Esoteric Doctrine of the Elements. The discovery of the four Elements is generally credited to Empedocles. It is important to note that for Empedocles, the Elements are more than just material substances. He introduces them as Gods: Zeus is Air, Hera is Earth, Hades is Fire, Nestis (Persophone) is Water. The relationship between the Elements is diagramed on what is known as the Elemental Square or the Square of Opposition. I thought it would be interesting to explore this tenet by layering contemporary man made elements (acrylic paints, synthetic plasters & factory manufactured patterns) atop natural raw materials like cotton and wood.Out of necessity this work begins with a square substrate as I was recreating the Elemental Square, for goodness sake! The canvas and wood stretcher bars represent the first element: Earth - the foundation for a series of emulsions. The final three coatings are metallic so as to reflect the light. (excuse me as I break into song..."Reflections of, the way life used to be..." okay I need to get back on point)
Step two was pattern research. I found myself at flea markets, church bazaars, and surfing the net. My aim was to find designs or patterns that would convey a female voice. What for you say? Well I am a contemporary female painter translating the work of a crusty old philosopher. On my scavenger hunt I scored a curtain, a table cloth and a few fragments of stray lace, perhaps from a garment? I'm not sure.
Moving onto step three, I used the fabric as a stencil. I put on my printmaker's hat and proceeded to trowel synthetic plasters through various swatches, using primary the primary colors to personify the spiritual elements Empedocles describes. Things get topsy turvy! Negative spaces are filled and transformed into positive imagery. This transfiguration of the lace designs should be understood as visual metaphors regarding the nature of these spiritual elements. So what do you think... brilliant, boring or just plain bull-dinky?