Material Vibrations, acrylic and oil paintings, 2018-2021
In 2018 I began to spend extended periods of time away from the city, going on rural meditation retreats where I practiced connecting with simple things in the moment, like the touch of the breath, or the physical feeling of my feet on the floorboards. Allowing myself to fully engage with these mindfulness practices caused a shift in the content and subject matter of my artwork, away from exterior observational sources towards a representation of interiority. Back in my Montreal studio, I began to draw without any expectations or demands, releasing notions of artistic value and ideology, and exploring what I would create without any intentions or pre-conceived ideas. My initial drawings were formless, nebulous interactions of varying shapes, gestures and colours. Over time and through repeated experimentation, a free-form grid-like structure began to appear. The grid allowed for structural stability and gave me a way to indicate individual sections of colour, and as I immersed myself in these compositional arrangements I started to produce colour field paintings (oil on linen). Within each unique grid-like structure, I found interactions between lightness, darkness, warmth and coolness, which allowed me to materially and conceptually explore certain eastern philosophical concepts such as the four elements of material substance, that is: earth or mass, fire or temperature, water or cohesion, and air or movement. This allegorical relationship to painting allowed for a deeper fusion of non-western ideas with my practice. For example, in Rūpa (2020), I considered the paint itself to be that which is earthly and solid, for the movement of my brushwork to be the element of air, and for intervals of darkness to express a void that exists beyond what is imposed or imagined. For me, the life of the colour came to represent the life of the mind, animated by thoughts, feelings and physical sensations — in this way, my practice began to facilitate a heightened interrelation between being and painting.
This work was generously supported by a grant from the Concordia University Part-time Faculty Association.