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Posts Tagged ‘Haruki Murakami’

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“Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

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I call this painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, At the Edge of the World. It’s included in my annual solo show Social Distancing which opens June 5 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

It’s an odd thing to promote a show during these strange times. While I know there will be a show, we still don’t know if there will be a reception. And even if there somehow is a reception, we don’t know what the logistics for it would be. I am pretty positive that I would not be attending in either case  which is odd as this has been an annual keystone event for me for the past 20 years.

Like many things these days, everything for the show has seemed out of rhythm and discordant.

I know getting into the groove for this show was difficult in the earlier part of this year as the pandemic took hold. I am not the kind of painter who can just fall back on my built in process and trust that it will carry me through. My process is always changing and is often quite different, even from day to day. The process used is often simply whatever is at hand that best allows me to express whatever the emotion well inside is gushing out on that given day.

For me, painting is almost always about the emotion of the moment. So, at a time when my emotions are flying all over the place, finding a painting groove took a while to locate. Before I found it, I felt like I was always fighting against myself. But now I’m in that groove and it feels good to create work that consistently meshes with my internal feelings.

We’re in a time that has shaken our rhythms and forced us to look at things in different ways, to reexamine what forces have brought us to this point and where we will be when this is all over. I think the work for this show distinctly reflects this time of social distancing and the air of anxiety and uncertainty that surrounds all of us. While some of it feels darker at first glance, there is most always a duality in the work that brings a feeling of hopeful possibility and endurance.

I know that is what I am seeing in this painting. It reflects the fact that we are at a place and time that we have never encountered before. We are at the edge of the world now. We don’t really now for sure what is in store for us beyond that visible edge. We fear the worst and hope for the best. The reality most likely is somewhere between those two poles but nobody can truly predict that future with any degree of certainty.

In this painting, I believe the focus is on the positive aspects of this near future that dwells over that edge. Much like the short snip from Murakami’s novel at the top, there is the possibility of that which is new and unknown to us. New chords to hear. New patterns to see. A new way of thinking.

This is about seeing this time as a moment of reinvention, with the possibility to forge a future that is markedly better than the past.

That’s my reading. You may see it differently and that is just as it should be.

Take care and have a good day.

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“And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others. And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore

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And it begins.

Many of us believe it should have started long ago. The foreboding darkness has been hovering around us for some time now but maybe Fate wasn’t ready to unleash the fury of the storm until this precise moment in time.

Part of me is relieved, even happy, to have this beginning because I know we must endure the storm if we are to get past this somehow. But part of me fears what it may bring, what damage the aftermath might reveal.

And another part is sad because it is a storm of our own making. For too long we have neglected our duties as citizens, distracted by those shiny things and flashing images that fill our modern lives. It was too easy to let others choose the direction in which this country would go.

Unfortunately, those who took control made a beeline for that place where the darkest clouds sit. That location where they could operate in obscuring shadows, that place from where an angry storm would no doubt come.

And that is the place where we are now. And a mighty storm has begun there.

We will get through it. And years from now, we will hopefully have vague memories of it and the toll it will take on us. But, as Murakami writes above, we will be somehow transformed coming out the other side. We will be forever changed, perhaps in ways we could never foresee.

And this change, this transformation we are about to undergo, is a scary thing for many of us. The optimistic part of me wants to believe we will be better for it, that we will shore up those supporting foundations of our democracy that have been eroded through attacks and neglect in recent times. But the darker, more pessimistic part of me sees us coming out in a world that thrives on the uglier aspects of ourselves– greed and hatred and anger.

I get the feeling that when we come out of this, we will have more fully embraced our better angels or our darker angels. I am not a religious person but I pray that we fall toward those angels of light.

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