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Portfolio / Emblemata

'If you eye wel and marke these silent poesies, give eare to these speaking pictures.'

Henry Hawkins (1634)

I engage in a process of creatively reconstructing from direct observation, memory and imagination, broken fragments of text and image in an trompe l’oiel illusion of collage in order find a visual poetry that resonates with the inner psyche through surreal associations and abstract formal qualities.

I want to evoke a sense of time in the present moment, painting as an instance captured or constructed, a frozen moment as a continuing event and to suggest impermanence, loss, transience and metamorphoses both in the creative process of building up and growth and the destructive aspects of breaking down and decay in the use of materials and processes.

I want to invoke a certain nostalgia for the act of painting, image making and its history in illusions of collage and photographic fragments and to playfully question the pictorial conventions of the frame and the illusion of form and space and challenge the viewer to deconstruct these aspects of the work and its context. I want the paintings to be in a sense  ‘self aware’ to admit the conventions that govern their ‘reality’, hence the trompe l’ oeil ambiguity about the edge of the picture and the illusional pictures inside the picture.

These works emerge from and mirror a meditative process of quiet contemplation of interior and exterior physical and mental realities as perceived through the senses. Time and motion, form and space, light and dark, the four elements, earth air, fire and water, liquid and solid, hot and cold, through the construction of a virtual world out of visual forms that represent and embody these elements.

This is a process that involves both the physical and the material as well as the non material worlds of emotion, intellect and spirit in a search for something paradoxically both and neither transcendent and immanent

Alchemy as a philosophy and a practice may a good metaphor for painting, combining as it does the material and spiritual, and the body and mind in a metaphysical, psychological and introverted search for wisdom and the ‘philosophers stone’ and the extroverted effort to turn base metals into gold and find the elixir of life.

In nature and art the search for beauty and meaning is an evolving state of mind, an aesthetic and moral disposition or orientation as much as a practical process of making and a relationship to materials and form. Looking is the mechanical operation of the eye and the senses, you see and understand with the mind and heart.

The fragments of text that appear in these paintings are all from the poem below which forms the ‘ The minde of the frontispeece and the argument of this worke’ in George Sandys ‘Ovid’s Metamorphosis’  of 1632.

  • Fire, Aire, Earth, Water, all the Opposites
  • That strove in Chaos powrefull Love unites;
  • And from their Discord drew this Harmonie
  • Which smiles in Nature: who, with ravished eye
  • Affects his own made Beauties. But, our Will,
  • Desire and Powres, Irascible, the skill
  • Of Pallas orders; who the Minde attires
  • With all Heroick Vertues: This aspires
  • To Fame and Glorie; by her noble Guide  
  • Eternalized, and well-nigh Deifi’d.
  • But who forsake that faire Intelligence
  • To follow Passion and voluptuous Sence;
  • That shun the Path and Toyles of Hercules;
  • Such, charmed by Circe’s luxurie and ease,
  • Themselves deforme; twixt whom, so great an ods;
  • That these are held for Beasts and they for Gods.
Metamorphoses Paintings & Drawings. All work featured in this portfolio is created by and © Alan Mitchell 2009. Website created by Op45.