A solo exhibition by Lindy Solomon. November - December 2020. Gallery 196, Cape Town.
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“We are here to awaken
from our illusion of separateness.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
insync | Artist's Statement
An exploration of our interconnectedness with the natural world and our human story of separation
This body of work arose from a single moment when an exquisite bokmakierie song echoed through the mountains elevating me into a state of pure bliss and then almost simultaneously, piercing my heart and plunging me into deep grief. This visceral experience was accompanied by an instant visual flash of Masaccio’s painting Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the ultimate expression of primal grief. The words of the poet, Antonio Machado, capture the heart of this experience:
“What have you done with the garden which was entrusted to you?’”
The profound impact of this experience and the recognition of the depth of my ecological grief led to an intensive art process over a year, mostly inspired by time spent in the Groot Winterhoek, the Cederberg and the Langeberg mountains.
The artworks created during this time explore our human story of separation and our interconnectedness with the natural world.
We are currently facing the devastating truth that we have created the sixth mass extinction and we are witnessing a silent daily disappearance of biodiversity due to our human actions on Earth. Some have described the loss of insects as an insect apocalypse. We now find ourselves at the Tipping Point, where unlike any species before us, we have the knowledge and the means to shift the future of life on Earth if we make wise choices.
In this body of work I have explored the profound sense of loss that we are now experiencing and that we will continue to experience in the future, unless conscious action is taken. I have also explored how we as humans, are part of an intricate network of interrelationships in the natural world and not separate from it but rather an integral part of the web of existence. I have tried to express the harmony of interconnectedness as a possible way of being and as a vision for the future.
In the artmaking process, I faced the challenge of finding a new visual language to explore non-differentiation so that the human figure could be represented as an integral part of the natural environment. I realised that the figures needed to be subtle in their presence, communing with Nature, with an organic connection to their environment. They needed to be fully present without dominating the space or becoming the focal point as they usually do. They had to be boundaryless with porous and indistinct edges, dissolving at times but not disappearing altogether. The art process involved pushing and pulling the surface repeatedly to find the right balance of mergence and emergence and exploring this again and again in many series of works.
As this body of work expresses aspects of our collective consciousness rather than individual states, I felt compelled to find a human ‘schema’ where the figures are depersonalised and generalised without individual features or facial expressions, as seen in ancient rock paintings all over the world. It also became clear that I could not use a variety of poses and gestures which would hold too much activity and intent. The few poses which are used repeatedly, reflect a moment in time where we are stopped in our tracks and brought to stillness to witness with awareness, without imposing on the natural world but rather getting to know it by being with it — described as ‘withnessing’ by Bayo Akomolafe.
I found myself engrossed in immense detail and complexity in creating these works as if expressing through the language of plants, water, wind, stars and insects with delicate markmaking, tracks, traces and tiny vibrational dots. I used complex found images in the collages, weaving many layers of textures and colours. One is invited to view these artworks intimately, very close up, just as one would pay great attention to the detail in nature when curious and engaged.
I was drawn to explore this new language through a variety of mediums such as printmaking, drawing, painting, collage and mixed media and to cross the boundaries between these freely.
Insync is a call for us to drop into our essential nature, to feel our resonance with the natural world and to synchronize our way of life with natural rhythms, the elements, all living creatures, birds, plants, trees, rivers, the ocean and the cosmos. We need to remember that we are only one of millions of species that inhabit this planet and to recognize the importance of all other species for the balance and existence of the whole. As humans, we are part of Nature and not apart from it. As Thich Nhat Hanh says:
“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”