Stilled

 

It is late afternoon. The light is fading, dim and even. There are tables scattered with objects placed in careful configurations or casually stacked. They are unremarkable items - familiar, ubiquitous, generic. They offer the comforts that can be offered by things - small nuggets of certainty to be held in the hand, Humble monuments to daily existence.

I might have been painting uninterrupted for days, weeks. These stretches of solitude have a tranquility which is not entirely easy. There is a sense of inwardness and disconnection. In retrospect such periods have the dreamlike quality of childhood memories - a gentle flow of time punctuated by small events. But memory is deceptive. These are days of doubt and uncertainty, filled with the muted turbulence of sustained focus and the volatility of perception. Such shifts and agitations emerge against the background of stillness.

What I am painting is not certain. It is neither allegory nor allusion to circumstance. There is no sense of narrative or the contrivance of life interrupted. I glance from canvas to objects - cups, bowls, various containers. Under scrutiny they assume ambiguities that are difficult to identify, develop instabilities that refuse to settle. The point at which an edge is lost in tonal unity or softens with the turning of a form is a matter of judgement rather than fact, its representation a matter of invention.

The process is a succession of glances - canvas, table, palette, object. So it goes on; a series of small movements broken by departure and return, immersion and distance. Realism, illusion, the appearance of truth require the shimmer of uncertainty, equivocation, doubt. Painting lies somewhere between the seer and the seen, intention and interpretation. It is the material residue of this relation - an accumulation of substance and sight, approximation and error.

 

Jude Rae 

Auckland, 1998.