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In this exhibition Mark Titmarsh explores the strong connections between conceptualization and the painterly surface. The ten large paintings and set of smaller works present a rich layering of colours. The paint in opulent luminescent reds, greens and purples, flows and congeals over the surfaces of the canvas. The layers of paint are rendered inelastic in time by a brilliant gloss lacquer, the effect of which is reminiscent of museum exhibits of beetles captured in a clear barrier of resin. The works radiate and reflect light like the drifts of colour within the glass marbles we held to the sunlight in awe as young children. lt was not surprising that the opening night crowd moved in and away from the works tilting their heads as if to move the flows of colour into different light.
The works adopt a postmodernist stance while looking like modernist icons and grids melting away in the intensity of the lights. Flowing surfaces merge and drag. The works strive for a new language, making hyphens and connections between thoughts and surfaces. This new language is challenging for the reader. The works explore the connection between the position of viewer as reader and the irony based in visual communication that is in one instance both incredibly accessible while being totally alien to a logical discourse. On the perceptual level, the works transfer vividness of colour, form and surface that, like molten toffee, entice the viewer sensually to experience and taste. On another level the works are neither figurative nor abstract. Within their layers lurk landscapes and faces, which exist not in the permanence of paint but in the transient thoughts of the viewers.
This is painting not as product but as a model of thinking, a record of inquiry and thought that is ultimately more readable than any written description of inter-dimensionallogic and creative thought can be. The fact that these works challenge the reader is less a comment about the inaccessibility of the work, than it is a comment on the lack of understanding of visual reading at a higher level. While we can read the pictures on billboards around the city and the proliferation of imagery bombarding cyberspace, this reading remains at the sensual and infantile level. We are not accustomed to having to bring a higher level of readership to our visual experiences. This reading is not a modernist paring down of spirituality, but rather the way we encapsulate the full capacity of our thinking and feeling selves through visual dialogue.
Artistic perception is about the chances and possibilities inherent to the world. The future is not a repetition of the past. The combination of sensation, emotion and intuition forms the basis of how we interpret and transform our world. Jung argues that 'sensation tells you that something exists; thinking tells you what it is; feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is going'.1 While agreeing with some of the sentiments expressed in this quote, artistic perception, as applied to visual research, is a holistic process that allows these processes to interact to form understandings. Sensation, thinking, feeling and intuition are inseparable aspects in aesthetic inquiry and work in an interconnected and symbiotic manner.
Artistic perception as a method of research inquiry is used by Mark Titmarsh to attain a level of heightened perception and emotionality. While still struggling to delineate the complexities of this language, his works substantiate art as a form of inquiry capable of transferring thoughts and feelings into images that are publicly accessible, and in turn trigger responses in the viewers. This challenges viewers to think and react. The Stream of Consciousness paintings require more of the audience than the usual nine seconds given to a hung piece. These works present an emerging struggle to cultivate thought. They are sensually beautiful but pursue the human need to share general ideas and convictions that give a meaning to life and position one personally and socially within a shifting universe, flowing under the cover of a glossy resin.
I have always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. I was surprised to find many intelligent and wide awake people who lived (as far as we can make out) as if they never learned to use their sense organs: they did not see things before their eyes, hear the words sounding in their ears, or notice the things they touched or tasted. Some lived without being aware of the state of their own bodies.2
1. Jung, C., van Franz, M., et al., eds, Man and His Symbols, Windfall Book, New York, 1964, p.61.
2. lbid, p.60.