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  • John Reid

Igniting the Mystery of Art.

I feel very strongly that what needs to happen when viewing a painting is a shift in consciousness, brief as it may be, a new perspective for experience. A space where the experience overrides judgement, where sensation prevails over dialogue and where the vitality of the moment dissolves thought.

It’s not meant to be understood logically.

That’s the mystery and magic of it.

There are no manuals for this or how to do videos, but it does rely on a chemistry of seemingly knowing and surrendering to its unfolding. Of course, it’s different for each artist.

If one looks at the British artist Frank Auerbach, his painted surface is so tilled, so worked by adding and scraping off paint. Although this surface is very much part of the action, when he adds those strong direct gestural lines the whole thing seems to burst into life, as if all his preparation of surface is like creating a stage for the action to happen and be seen.

I do believe that it is this igniting of the work that is the success of all great art. It is not necessarily about building up layers and layers of paint as seen with Auerbach. Matisse and Miro achieved this ignition of life in the painting with a very direct and often minimal use of paint.

When the work makes this shift, this opening into another realm, a new layer of consciousness opens for the artist and viewer alike. It’s this sense of ignition, this reaction of all parts to create something that is more than just a summation of what has been put down in paint, that opens the mystery of the work or opens a space within the viewer where mystery can exist. This is a catalyzed space where logic and reason can be diluted so that mystery can be real. It’s a space free from thought or boundaries, a space designed to embrace wonder.

It's so difficult in regular life where everything needs to be logical and ordered to actually embrace the notion of mystery.

Great paintings allow mystery to be real…not in a story book fashion but by the nature of the environment they create.

In achieving this art remains a mystery as it is supposed to be.

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