The Assumption of the Golden Record

G. Barnes, (2013) ChristCrack: Angel in Time. Unfinished
G. Barnes, (2013) ChristCrack: Angel in Time. [Unfinished]
In my artwork I have been layering materials, seeing into cracks, peeling back surfaces, exposing origin layers of ‘chaos’ beneath the paint – perhaps trying to get to the bottom of something ‘hidden'(?). And then conversely I have also been painting traditional sacred medieval icons, where the revelation of God is open, ‘present,’ revealed – where there are no ‘shadows,’ where heaven is directly engaged, where the large eyes of saints and prophets and saviours stare boldly, directly, unashamedly into our own broken souls. A sacred icon painter once referred to his practice as ‘wrestling with icons’ – and I can understand why. They force the ‘painter of God’ to examine deeply his own relationship with the divine realm.

IMG_1508
G. Barnes, (2013). “Origin Orante – She Whose Womb contains Him Whom even the Heavens cannot Contain.”

An artist who has consciously decided to ‘Paint God’ is forced to ask at every step ~ can it be done?

I wonder if it is inbetween these places of light and dark, in the boundaries between the ‘hidden/shadow’ and the ‘revelation/present’ that is the most interesting place to seek and work. This place, between the darkness and the light, is full of richness ~ tis neither one nor the other. I can swing on the fringes of God’s robe and explore! In this place I can see God in Everything, and love the ritual and mystery of the Church, but I can also look and see God Nowhere – I can even say that forbidden word – Atheist – and honestly ask that question – does God exist? A real problem, because the tiny kernel of faith I possess is always, immediately, and simultaneously confronted with a mammoth terror – the scientific statistical possibility of our aloneness on earth. Our little blue planet, in an eternal galactic dark. I wonder where is God hiding in all this? I think it’s a great place to start ~ with terror ~ the Terror of Aloneness. The terror is real and faith reflected in that dark, is somehow more colourful, with multi-dimensional possibilities.

This video, a slightly mediated compilation of found footage primarily from NASA, is my response to the pathos of the human condition: The deep loneliness we all share, alone here on this Earth. We send our greetings out to the aliens in space, in every language, reaching out in a vain, almost comedic hope of NOT being alone. We share our music, images, codes, formulas, science. This probe has been travelling for over 40 years, it is only just leaving the solar system, about to enter interstellar space. This is the farthest physical reach into space of all known humanity. Two bits of space junk. It is a bit sad, slightly pathetic. But actually if we were to accept this ‘aloneness’ of humanity as a uniting force, as husbands of the Earth and all her creatures – then I feel that maybe we would appreciate how important is is for us to ‘just get along’ a bit better perhaps? Take some responsibility.

G. Barnes, (2013) Origin Orante Alone: She Whose Womb contains Him Whom even the Heavens cannot Contain. [tempera and gold, unfinished]
G. Barnes, (2013) Origin Orante – Alone
Beyond that, the more we learn of our world, our cosmos and the creation – the bigger God gets. If God is truly ‘beyond all that exists’ as early Christian mystic, Dionysius the Areopagite would say, then He is truly immeasurable. Yet if God IS all that exists – then likewise – immeasurable. The question then for us artists is this: Where is God that He can be drawn?

“One must abandon all that is impure and even all that is pure. One must scale the most sublime heights of sanctity leaving behind you all the divine luminaries, all the heavenly sounds and words. It is only thus that one may penetrate to the darkness wherein He who is beyond all created things makes his dwelling” (Dionysius the Areopagite; sourced from Lossky; 1944, p. 27)

Yet it is the journey that is key. Our desire for assumption into the unknown. Our wish to travel between realms. This is the place we can dwell, and explore. The place artists inhabit ~ at least until revelation.

FURTHER READING

Lossky, Vladimir (1944). The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. St Vladimir’s Seminary Press: New York.

Between the Hidden and the Revelation

In my artwork I have been layering materials, seeing into cracks, peeling back surfaces, exposing origin layers of ‘chaos’ beneath the paint – perhaps trying to get to the bottom of something ‘hidden’. And I have also been painting traditional sacred medieval icons, where the revelation of God is open, ‘present,’ revealed – where there are no ‘shadows,’ where heaven is directly engaged, where large eyes of saints and prophets stare boldly, directly, unashamedly into our own broken souls. Creating sacred objects that have a long established formal communication regarding God and faith.

“Angel of Time” [Work in progress]
But I think it is in between theses places, in the boundary between the ‘hidden’ and the ‘revelation’ – that’s where I want to work.

The Studio Desk: 4 April 2013

10 April 2013

DESK 1: CHRISTCRACK SERIES exploration continues – currently, I am involved with the materials:

The Gesso Ground – Cracked and blistered or sanded and smooth? Carved and scratched or burnished like marble? I’ve added china clay and ground up egg shells to the standard whiting and rabbit skin glue mix. I have also experimented with agate burnished cracked gold on hessian and muslin, with interesting results that I am still deciding whether I like.

The gesso surface is an important part of the process in the construction of a sacred artefact. Made with sacramental matter/materials – animal (rabbit skin glue, chalk, calcium) and organic (wood, h20, clay). Transformed via mysterious alchemic processes – from millions of years as diatoms become chalk, to five minutes as rabbit skin becomes glue. It is the Base, it is the Luminous. The light is coming to the viewer from within the image, and not just reflecting off it. ‘This luminosity is vital for iconography, because the way an icon is painted should mirror the paradisiacal world that it depicts … radiant with the light of its Creator and Sustainer.’ (Hart, A; p. 130) Also, the gesso can be seen as the Created Light, while the gold mirrors the Uncreated Light.

I am also experimenting with the shape of the ‘crack’ – which include squares, torn rectangles, and circles, as well as with the layering of gesso, gold, gesso again, etc… Plus the embossing of gold and the mixing of gold with tempera as in Sue Viner‘s work. I am yet to apply colour.  See gallery:

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DESK 2: SACRED ICONS

G. Barnes, 2013. Template Drawing 'St. Francis with Five New Zealand Birds' [graphite on paper].
G. Barnes, 2013. Template Drawing Detail ‘St. Francis with Five New Zealand Birds’ [graphite on paper].
I’m still painting (writing) the icon of the Platytéra – [the Mother on Earth who contains within Her womb the Creator of the Universe – Him whom even the Heavens cannot contain] Am thinking of a title. And also thinking of exhibiting it juxtaposed with moving image – the Apollo Titan rocket launch, for example.

I have also started an icon of St. Francis. It can’t be helped. He needs a voice.

DESK 3: MOVING IMAGE

My short film ‘The Mobile Meat Processing Unit’ is to screen in May in the Green Film Festival in Seoul, and also in MashRome in Italy. It had an outing in the Yukon two weeks ago. I watched it on a really really big massive screen in Hoyts two nights ago, with the new DCP protocol, and found myself thinking wistfully of new ideas for digital cinema – particularly derived works, using found footage…. TBC.