Jef Gunn

Close your eyes and open them.
There is no one, not even yourself.
That which is not stone is light.
        - Octavio Paz

Recognizing the conditional nature of the world around me, I have created these paintings as constructions assembled of parts and patterns, found and altered and made: ink rubbings from streets and sidewalks; lines printed from violins and other found forms; "language" or calligraphy taken from the graffiti in my neighborhood, trees, or shadows; linoleum pressed with the historic moments of its previous life. In this exhibit, there are examples from eight series that I work on simultaneously.

The ideas begin with my personal experience in wilderness, in what John Marin referred to as the "large forms of nature."  They are reduced and concentrated to complex interrelations of shapes and colors, pattern and rhythm, that will sometimes also make reference to human forms, or the body of a great being. The Oneiric River series, for instance, began with new iterations, in diverse materials, from the memory of an old dream of a subterranean river flowing slowly through a broad, yellow plain, in which black stones stood as these great beings.

The renowned scholar of Asian art, Sherman Lee, says that, "Painting a landscape, as well as observing one, either real or painted, becomes an act of spiritual knowing and regeneration." He is writing about Chinese painting theory, and I, too, think in this way. I believe it is still true in our time and culture that landscape and abstraction both carry philosophical implications because they are larger than ourselves and our intensely busy, urban lives, more direct than our stories and doubts. What we want in a work of art is a reminder of the relationship between the ephemeral and the timeless, just as gazing on a vast landscape sets our present moment in relation to boundless space and forms and light. And just as wilderness appears to remain constant while in continuous transformation, pure abstraction achieves a space for contemplation, a place to reflect on pure form and color, on relationship and interdependence.

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