“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
– Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
My painting represents the victory of the forces of darkness and peace over the powers of light and evil.
Ad Reinhardt (1975). “Art-as-art: the selected writings of Ad Reinhardt”
The image of Ad Reinhardt peering into his own painting shows a cooler, 20th century version of Caravaggio’s Narcissus. Though it was not vanity that drew Reinhardt to search in the dark recesses of the pool… it was the reverse. For painting might grant us the opportunity to lose oneself in the “desert of the non-objective” rather than to locate one’s reflection so as to admire it.
When Rothko said that “a painting is not a picture of an experience, but is the experience”, he implied certain shared obligations for both the painting and its viewer. That judgement is suspended in favour of feeling, that we allow an encounter with (his) painting to approach transcendence. The pursuit of this metaphysical state, something some painters have long wished to attend to was central to Rothko’s aspirations, as indeed it was to Malevich, to Turner and to Casper David Freidrich. These painters wished that painting might shoulder the burdens of theosophy, deliver the devotional clout of divinity and through their material depictions they may bring forth a “nonmaterial’, numinous episode.
I don’t think for a minute that any of the painters in Raven wish to emulate such cravings but what each of them do seem to seek is a distilled and open reception for work that speaks quietly and sincerely to a sensate register in us that has been reduced, subjugated by the clamour and white noise that popular culture fertilizes.
Raven brings together the works of major international painters and sculptors over two exhibitions, first in Auckland and then followed by Sydney later this year. Most works have never been seen before and the gallery is enormously grateful to those artists who have quietly embraced this opportunity – so much so that Raven has taken on an extraordinary dimension and life of its own.
– Andrew Jensen