Prior to commencing this series of paintings, I had read the book by James Hollis, Mythologems: Incarnations of the Invisible World, where he discusses the cultural, psychological and metaphysical importance of myth and the use of motifs within them – such as catabasis (the journey down) and anabasis (rising up and out of darkness) – and the flux and flow between such polarities. Particularly compelling were his concepts of journey and passage pertaining to all human existence, rather than the myths per se.
Around this time, I was also impressed by what curator Shirley Madill refers to as the “walk hovering on the threshold of ambiguity and recognition” in her introduction to the Sublime Embrace show at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Ms. Madhill’s wisdom became an important guide-post for my future work as well, yet in the winter of 2005-6 as I embarked on this series of oil paintings for my solo show at the Oeno Gallery, that “threshold” represents the liminal space that separates us from what we were and what we might become.
I am profoundly moved by the ephemeral nature of light and the sustenance it provides in physical, psychic and symbolic terms, and visually, my work is very much about conveying this relationship. Technically, I am drawn to the challenge of conveying it, and conceptually, value when it emerges from the canvas itself. I paint in oils, using an alla prima technique to create thin, quickly rendered translucent layers, which lend to my thematic concerns, and allow me to explore resonant evocations of light and shadow.
In my previous series called Nocturnes, I used a sense of physical isolation to invite reflective observation of an exterior world. In the Liminal series, I invite that same observation by isolating the moments contained within states of inner being, The progression feels natural and the goal consistent: to render a nuanced collection of images, moments, sensations, which by their nature are elusive yet, deeply resonant or ‘felt’. It is crucial that something remain elusive, ambiguous, suggested, inviting the viewer to articulate the experience in his or her own terms, and in turn, examine his or her place in the overall scheme of things.
Interior Spaces: Liminal Places: Oeno Gallery, Prince Edward County, Ontario, May 2006