Stillness in Paintings
by: Pip Bishop , October 5, 2020
by: Pip Bishop , October 5, 2020
By working on these paintings during this period of confusion, fear and uncertainty, I have sought to parse a whirlwind of turbulent emotion, and to find rest in the actual silence and stillness of the present. This is a unique moment in which plans cannot be made and the future remains uncertain.
My current series of paintings explores the notion of containment. Taken together, they constitute a performative and deliberate attempt to hold and reckon with my inner emotional world. As I come to terms with what has become a kind of monastic way of life, emptied of excitement but ripe with potential in its stillness, I have found myself influenced by the films of Joanna Hogg. It is Hogg who has made me aware of the true space of stillness that exists outside of the mind. If one can try to slow down the vicissitudes of the mind and sit with the initial awkwardness of this encounter, I have found it is possible to welcome in silence and stillness.
Through painting, I seek to recalibrate and create a healing vision: a process of realignment through shapes which are both symmetrical and asymmetrical. They are resolutely imperfect, wobbly, and even messy despite their seeming neatness. The soothing pale shades evoke balance and composure in contrast to the rough grain of the canvas – layers of oil that smooth tumultuous surfaces. The soft changes in tonality help to express and mirror the subtle emotional gradation, which now characterises our passing days. Each painting forms a part of a necessary, repetitive and ritualistic process that works to harness emotion and create clarity for me.
Although at once alone, I am also not alone as I am confined amongst family which brings its own set of pressures and demands. We are all isolated, and yet in some cases more connected with people from across the world as we catch glimpses into other’s homes and lives. This marriage of closeness and separation is something that I, too, am trying to express in my own work. Paradoxically, we are still and quiet and yet also frantic and noisy. More connected than ever by the universal and global nature of this pandemic, yet isolated and distanced from one another.
This series of ‘still’ paintings represents, then, composure and nuanced realignment. They are an active attendance to resetting in this time of necessary reflection. They offer reprieve from the pressures of extraversion. They have allowed me to hold on to the passing present with loving care and attention.
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Guy Martin – an award-winning and widely published British photographer who’s kindly agreed to share his images with our readers
Chandler Jernigan – a talented young American photographer whose portraits hugely enriched the visuals of MAI website
Matt Gillespie – a gifted professional British photographer who with no hesitation gave us permission to use some of his work
Julia Carbonell – an emerging Spanish photographer whose sharp outlook at contemporary women grasped our feminist attention
Ana Pedreira – a self-taught Portuguese photographer whose imagery from women protests beams with feminist aura
And other photographers whose images have been reproduced here: Cezanne Ali, Les Anderson, Mike Wilson, Annie Spratt, Cristian Newman, Peter Hershey