New work to be shown at Art Moorhouse, London, November 2019
This new series of paintings is continuing along the same lines as the Gateways series in terms of simplicity and economy of means, an investigation of ideas and process. The timeless ceremonies of Varanasi offered the opportunity for a new and reduced grammar in the paintings and sculptures. The grids and slabs of paint breaking and enlivening the surface are a reflection of the stacked timbers of the pyres, the many colours representing the different five elements and states of man. The squares and circles in the paintings and sculptures are Hindu symbols for earth and heaven respectively.
After a period of time spent in Varanasi this newer work explores the balance between action and stillness, light and dark and the seeking of infinite variety in repetition and the opportunity for accident and chance.
Approaching the burning ghats of Varanasi through the narrow winding streets you repeatedly press yourself into small recesses and doorways as another funeral party jostles by. The deceased held high on their shoulders, wrapped in fine materials and always accompanied by the rhythmical sound of bells and prayers. On arrival the body will be dipped five times in the Ganges to represent the five elements.
Here in one of the seven holiest cities in India Hindus believe that through cremation and having their ashes scattered in the river Ganges they will escape the recurring cycle of life and death and attain Spiritual liberation.
The funeral pyres are lit using embers from the eternal flame. This fire, it is believed, has been burning for 3000 years, looked after by the same family for many generations.
The cremation, often a noisy and joyous occasion accompanied by singing and prayers is a cause for celebration as much as sorrow. The body slowly reduced to ashes among the flames The enormous mounds of ash pile ever higher ready to be thrown in the Ganges. Colour abounds but always balanced by the grey ash and the burned and blackened timbers.