Painting as Prayer
Painting is an act of faith. A physical manipulation of materials upon a considered surface, working processes exposed, tensions revealed in a compelling composition that evokes a distinct mood. Communion with God takes many forms. An image to the glory of God unites the beholder in the sanctity of contemplation. Painting as prayer envisions this awareness of sanctuary with solace, melancholia transcended when explored as threshold not boundary. A sacramental act of worship, witness and wonder that, by grace, encourages the mind, emboldens the heart and embraces the soul.
Presence in Absence
Peter Gagen envisions landscape as an embodiment of becoming, a transfictive consciousness of the abstract sublime, threshold not boundary between the material and the Immaterial. A painter for whom spiritual engagement with the lack and longing of melancholia embraces, by grace, this abject loss of self knowing; the uncanny allure of the tragic entwined with the affectation of beauty. Mark as metaphor engages this enduring alterity of presence in absence as resolute metanoia, abstract process painting wherein death embraces desire in allusive compositions of water, land and light.
Landscape, that natural conduit of our being in the world and of time passing inexorably towards death, can envision our hearts to approach life spiritually engaged. Yet we gaze, less in wonder of an inspired awareness of the divine, rather with disaffection when nature disrupts our passage. Spectacle has eclipsed vision, our eyes downcast by the vicissitudes of modern life, desire for contemplation conditioned by the secular allure of a pixelated screen.
Painting with the intensity of inner necessity, Peter Gagen combines a restricted palette of muted blues, greys and black, stained striations and bare canvas to elicit atmospheric compositions of water, land and light. Painting is an act of faith, a redemptive journey from obscurity into light, allusive figurative elements embodied in a semi-abstract vista. A sacramental approach to the abstract sublime that engages the uncanny with serenity, beauty subordinated for truth in the hermitic tradition of painting as prayer. This consecrated poiesis conjoins the allure of the tragic with the affectation of beauty, a contemplative bringing forth into the light of intimacy, the grief of traumatic loss and the transience of desire, for the good of all. Set apart in the silence and solitude of the studio, resolute in the gift of faith, a painter thankful for the vocational solace of painting beyond melancholia. Universal lack and longing beheld in the hallowed gaze of a painting, ephemeral and eternal.
Art and religious belief as the antithesis of sincere inquiry, continues to be the prevalent orthodoxy within contemporary visual art. Faith led practice and visual testament deemed sentimental, prayer and meditation idiosyncratic; spiritual discernment rarely disclosed by art history and critical theory, the sacred eschewed. Art once served religion on behalf of a regal aristocracy. Today, cultural affirmation is from business sponsorship of a state technocracy, a secular communion that diminishes compassion borne of an inner life. Consumerism is the new consciousness. Decorative capital commodifies painting as ambient entertainment, decries consecrated thinking and confines sacramental art to solitary requiem.
Art illuminates the shadows we cast.
When we embrace its hallowed gaze of renewal, by grace, we are resplendent. Amen