New word alert! It may delight or horrify David Astle, the word nerd featured in this wonderful interview on the joy of words: click click click
Is it a pre-xmas, not-enough-sleep , post-penguin-demount malaise? Who knows, but I’ve got it bad. I’d rather spend the month trying to grow a moustache for charity, but it seems that’s still a year or two in my future. No’vim’ber Antedote #1 was to trundle off to Brisbane last weekend to the opening of ‘Life is the heart of a rainbow’, the Yayoi Kusama survey exhibition at QAGAMA.
The exhibition publication states that now, at age 88, she paints every day in her Tokyo studio “completing a painting every few days for her epic series My Eternal Soul. Begun in 2009, this series now counts over 500 paintings…”
Let’s pause there—because I need a lie down at the thought—500 since 2009. 500.
I’d never seen her paintings up close, only the amazing polka dotted sculptures and mirrored installations. More than 20 paintings were hung in a stunning cheek-by-jowl salon hang that had us yelping with joy. The pic above, Dreams of the Girls, 2016, acrylic on canvas, hanging in a room of colour. Then the room next door all lines and solids in black and white, silkscreened on canvas.
Overnight at my friends house, I sleep beside another salon hang with a 2003 piece of mine and the latest series of works by friend’s daughter.
Seeing that piece fed into what’s also been a tremendous wave of nostalgia washing around me all month. Missing my mum, seeing my 91 year old dad, chipper and fit that he is, thank Dog. Starting back to oil painting after an 8 month break, it’s impossible to avoid the circular—and definitely useless—thought-loop of what am I doing, will I ever do anything okay again. Such a waste of existential angst when I could be worrying about growing a moustache, and other associated ageing gifts. Aaaah, but how else would I start a new chunk of work but with this?
No’vim’ber Antedote #2 is to paint and paint and then paint some more. Then paint again. With a show ahead in mid April 2018 at Red Hill Gallery it feels like my usual process is too lengthy, too heavy, to meet the timeframes. How does Kusama make 6+ works per month?
Sure, 7 decades of art practice has to help. And a master’s grasp of pretty much everything. Ever. But there’s simplicity and repetition at play too.
This week the paper comes out, and I’ll go back to sketching in colour. Antidote #3. Drawing and painting little gouache pieces, especially outdoors, always makes me brim with vim. And as we lug boxes, and furniture, move chaos from one living location to another, I get to see the new landscapes near the new home in different ways. It always brings me back to what landscape is to me, why do I bother painting it. Knowing that, and feeling that pull is the ‘heart of a rainbow’.
In the radio podcast link up top, Astle talks about a UK study on the language of children. As examples he states that 30% of them could identify a magpie, and 90% could identify a Dalek. Okay, so I agree, that’s not a bad thing 😀 but because of ‘space’ in our modern life, the Junior Oxford Dictionary last year had to drop nectar, nettle and willow for words like meme, hashtag, chatroom and podcast. The dictionary just doesn’t have room for all the words and the squids need words added that are relevant to their life now.
Astle says that we are starting to lose words that connect with nature, and this sentence from him affected me greatly:
“The words that we shape in our mouths are the means of those notions affording purchase in our hearts, and if we stop using these words, or have less use for these words, then we start to drown in abstract space rather than natural space.”
Go, be in Kusamas abstract space, you can’t drown there, you can only be buoyed up.