Roberta Pyx Sutherland presents:
So Below ll
So Below ll
March 15 - April 19, 2019. Opening Friday March 15, 5-7pm Artist’s Talk at 5:30pm
The Chapel Gallery at St Matthias Church, 600 Richmond Ave, Victoria.
Gallery Hours: Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday 10am-2pm. Artist in Attendance on Saturdays.
As Above So Below ll is a continuation of Sutherland’s quest for spiritual development through artmaking. During an artist residency at the BAU institute in Italy, she began her contemplative inquiry into dots and circles. Other artist residencies in Italy, especially Contemporary Conversations, widened her international circle. Editart in Geneva Switzerland represents Sutherland. This group of avant-garde print-makers offer their originals to a group of collectors called Circle of Friends. Closer to home, she taught The Contemplative Brush at the 2018 Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts. A BFA graduate from UVic, her teachers and mentors include Jack Wise, Roy Kiyooka, Don Jarvis, Paola Iacucci and Jack Shadbolt.
The Chapel Gallery has themed exhibitions throughout the year. The theme of Lent traditionally involves lament and bearing witness. The artist believes her monochromatic ink pieces align with absence, emptiness and the dilemma of unanswered questions. “These are familiar aspects of our present day suffering,” she says. Sutherland fashioned a Crown of Thorns to symbolize the sacrifice of Jesus on Good Friday. She was challenged by the task of harvesting the barbed vines and twisting them into a wreath. “It got me wondering who actually made the crown of thorns,” she says. Historical accounts of the Crown of Thorns say it was made from the branches of the Jujube tree and fashioned by Roman soldiers. With each blow to the head the inch long thorns were driven deep into the mocked “King of the Jews”. Sutherland splattered red and gold paint across the wreath for visceral effect. An oozing red border surrounding the central wreath adds powerful drama to the artwork.
Over the past several years, the artist has completed many Ensō inspired artworks. For her, the floating circles suggest the universal dance of molecular energy and mysteries of quantum physics. Sutherland prefers to complete a series of Ensō while on a residency of 4-6 weeks. Each painting may contain up to 100 circles, completed over a period of several days. “The stamina required to complete a group of paintings is like running a marathon,” she says. The body has to prepare for the intense focus of completing the circles in one confident gesture. Having a consistent daily routine allows natural rhythms of work and rest to assist creative output.
Most of the “As it is” series are painted on Torinoko paper. Torinoko in Japanese means “hens-egg” referring the the warm tone of the paper. This hand-made traditional Japanese paper (washi) is made from local plant fibres. The surface texture is smooth and allows for good brush movement. The gradations of ink tones from black to pale gray are perfectly realized. “This is wonderful paper,” says Sutherland, “is has the perfect level of absorption, and is totally consistent.” The artist uses high quality paper and ink, but Inexpensive brushes. They lose their hairs quickly and create the interesting effect of concentric circles.
To start a painting, the artist checks over the paper, laid flat on a table. Starting with the palest ink, she begins to make the circles, using brushes of different sizes. As circles overlap and interact patterns of rhythm and movement appear, giving a subtle sense of three dimensional space. The random patterning offers guidance about the placement and size of the next Ensō. “At this point the technique becomes intuitive,” she says, “and quite musical as the visual notes fall down upon the paper.” These notes reverberate and harmonize within the shared space. “The process is endlessly fascinating,” Sutherland says, “I’ve completed many circle and dot paintings, and never tire of the myriad possibilities and outcomes.”
For more information about the Chapel Gallery at St Matthias visit: ChapelGallery