31 March 2021

dragonflies and snowflakes seen through the porthole


Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 30 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 30 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

Two studies from the other night which revealed something slightly new for me. I see that if I wait long enough, but not too long, there opens a fragile window onto a map of delicate colour harmonies which beckon me way after the sun has dropped behind. It is a small opening though, a porthole, hardly 30 minutes when this Autumn sky gently diffuses into the most extraordinary palette. 

Maybe I sound redundant because I am sure to  have already written these thoughts on a number of occasions in these pages. 

It is not that the sky has changed of course. It is that I have opened up to this new delicacy as if suddenly I acquired a passion for some unusual new hobby like catching and classifying dragonflies or the photography of snowflakes.

It is something so ever present, usually overlooked, banal even, but which becomes a sudden passion, perhaps like knowing a woman since a long time, but one day, quite out of the blue, one suddenly sees her, and falls deeply in love. And one is spellbound by the event.

After all, the clouds have always been there, up high and just out of reach since forever even if most people do not spend a great deal of time studying them the way children and misfits can, and usually do.

So in this Painting world, I am always amazed that Nature reveals more of itself just when needed, like when one wonders if maybe they have hit a dead end on their chosen path.

I keep thinking of something Cézanne said:

"There is truth in Nature, and I am going to prove it".

Alas, for the rest of us amateurs, we slog along behind him ruminating his confidence and hoping to pick up scraps of it along the way. 

30 March 2021

29 March 2021

each moment, even each rainy day


Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 27 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 25 X 30 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 27 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 25 X 30 cm

A small series of four pictures from the other night which came quickly. It was the first clear sky in a week, at least and it felt good to be out mixing colours. Out of the four, I really only like the second and fourth ones but I put them all up though not in the order they were made. 

There isn't much to say except that at least they live because I created them when I did. For many years I often used to curse myself when I didn't work because it felt to me (in only a very metaphorical way as I do not wish to offend anyone) it was like having an abortion. If I didn't show up to take a chance  on life, none of these things would see the light of day, nor would I have the pleasure and the pain of each creation.

So, I take what I can each day, each moment, even each rainy day. 

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 27 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 25 X 30 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 27 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 25 X 30 cm

28 March 2021

Leigh Bowery meets EX de Medici in my kitchen


A friend of mine stumbled by the other day. He had been to the Myocum Tip store which is a few Kms away from where I live. His obsession is picking things up at the Tip, things he has little use for in the present but imagines he could use someday in the future. His wife complains openly that he is a hoarder. He stops in for a coffee sometimes. The other day he brought 1/4 of a delicious apple cake which he had made. He is generous Greek who arrived in Melbourne as a child. He loves to cook and spread his food around, it's his way of spreading love. He also brought an outdated Art Monthly Australia dated June 2004 which the guy at the Tip probably gave him because he is such a fan.

shopping at Harrods

as muse for Lucien Freud

This morning I picked it up from the kitchen table where it was left days ago. I quickly perused it flipping through the pages and saw an article on Leigh Bowery who has always fascinated me as an amazingly creative and original man. He was one of Lucien Freud's most famous muse. He was like a brawl between two gangs of thugs, amazing to watch, spellbinding the public both erudite and popular, while shocking everyone else. And sadly, like all sparkling champagne it goes flat, and he died of AIDS in London in 1994 at 33.

So today, I read the article on him but I then stumbled upon another article featuring EX Medici of whom I had never heard. A tattoo artist who made large intricate watercolours among other artistic pursuits. She is very well regarded in Australia and will have a major show at the NVG in Melbourne at the end of this year. 

Full disclosure: I don't like her work but I see that it is original, and she is very gifted in her craft. I like her obsessional personality, so evident and strikingly fastidious. She is a serious artist, full of an intricate imagination. 

She deals with very contemporary subjects in a dystopian vein which is in itself a whole genre of contemporary art today. Guns which seem to be have been taken over by nature's flora is interesting and is re-iterated in many pieces. It reminds me of the famous (iconic) photo from the 1960's of the hippy girl putting a flower into the barrel of an M16 held by a Ohio National guardsman standing guard after the killings at Kent State University. 

I can also see why she is very successful, and I say this without any catty inference. When I see originality and great talent I hope to recognise it but I am not beholden to liking it. 

My taste, which is just what it means, is personal. In the arty world there great things which I do not appreciate nor like at all, just as there are things which I deem to be awful  but I can like very much. 

This is at the heart of having a mind which is both original and fallible. 

Here are more examples of her work.


24 March 2021

the think with the sink


I have this thing about keeping a sink clean, at least during the waking hours anyway. Is it obsessional or just practical? Having lived alone most of my life, and having no maid for this kind of thing, I seem to have always understood what needs to be done for my own sanity.

But why the sink? I care less about the laundry pile which has been washed and dried outside but seem to take forever to find its way to drawers and hangers. It lives in the purgatory  of sofas and tables for weeks on end. But because I don't receive many visitors I don't worry about the visual mess. There is already so much visual mess around my home.

But the kitchen, on the other hand seems to be the Central Nervous System of my life. And the sink is the heart of that system. 

Keeping a clean sink is a great way to pretend that one's life is clean and ordered;  organised for a chaotic world outside the protections of home. 

And it is in my home where I eat exclusively so my kitchen sink is used a lot. It's great pleasure to eat at home though in this region, one can eat out like a king and queen if they so desire. This is foodie country around Byron Bay.

I have a plumber who remarked to me after doing  a few things around the place over the years. 

"I can tell this kitchen is the most important place in your home!"

I agreed, only just to keep the conversation at a minimum but he was in the ballpark though. My small deck overlooking the garden is a very close second.

So the sink, one thinks... what about it? On one level, yes, it is my desire for the order which I cannot find in my mind, in my life. When the sink and kitchen is clean and sober I have a chance at being clean and sober, so I muse to myself. 

But on another level, it isn't really about the sink at all, it's about the preparation for my own random, and possibly impending death. 

When I lived in Aix, a million years ago, I was completely mad about hang gliding. I flew for 20 years and I went flying any chance I could mostly near Gemonos, not far from Marseille. It was a small bowl of a small mountain where we could climb high enough to see the whole coastline from Cassis to La Ciotat. Then, most weekends I flew with friends at various sites around the Southern Alps, but also too, in Italy in the summer. It was a glorious time; It was my youth.

But here is the thing: Whenever I left my house to go flying I always cleaned up the sink and I arranged the place so that it looked neat and orderly upon return. I was acutely aware that I might die, or become disabled if I screwed up in flight and I didn't want anyone else to be faced with a messy house. But especially if I died, then my friends would have to sadly make their way into this small house to figure out a way to contact my next of kin. 

Why would I wish them to face a mess and a sink filled with unwashed cups and dirty dishes?  

This was the real thing about the sink.

23 March 2021

first thought best thought


                                                                        first bite

This was a photo of a study from last year taken before I went further with it. Sometimes I will take a photo of something on the easel in order to preserve an idea which I know will soon be lost. Not sure what became of this painting when finished, but looking at it now, I really like its unfinished state.

One never really sees what one does at the time of creation. It takes time.

21 March 2021

Clouds, the colour of mountain tops

Several days of heavy rain has kept me away from the beach yet I did manage these small things in between squalls the other night. 

When I arrived at the beach it didn't look brilliant. I wondered if I could find enough of a clearing in the sky where I could grab and hold on to something long enough to find a few pictorial ideas.  

As I unpacked and set up a palette some patches of blue opened up as if I had commanded "OpenSesame!" Faith (or superstition) is the key.

To find a parallel to Rock Climbing would not be imprecise. Arriving at a motif, (in this case the beach and sky) I immediately study the wall of solid clouds above me trying to decipher a point of entry. If it isn't opaque there will be some veins of light running through it and providing colour (hopefully). Without these veins of light there is less of a chance for colour. Alas, no light no colour. 

And like the climber, a painter is a child of patience, well, sort of. Without it, one cannot proceed with care, but in failure, a climber has more to lose than a painter. But arriving at the summit both climber and painter feel an enormous relief, a satisfaction too.

Happily, on this night, there was light and colour. The result isn't exactly fireworks but maybe enough subtlety within these harmonies that can lead to new paintings in the near future.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 19 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 
25 X 20 cm


Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 19 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 
25 X 20 cm

18 March 2021

pale colours pasted on the soft yellow sky

The rain keeps coming! My late afternoon painting sessions are sporadic in this weather and so it pushes me into the studio. It is difficult to ever complain about too much rain, unless one lives on the coast of Ireland or Britain. Here it comes and goes like a cat through any window. 

One afternoon last week the sky brought me these three gifts. I wasn't so crazy about the first two, which are in order. It was the third one which pleased me the most. But now, I kind of like the first two as well. 

It was clear but for the sleeping cloud above the horizon line, so naturally it was rose to begin with. Then, it goes purple, cold like a recent cadaver. Then comes that particular moment when the entire sky opens up again, and lightens dramatically. Though obviously not a scientist I have understood it to be when the sun has dropped so deeply behind the western sky that it shoots all its light upwards giving us an evenness of luminosity everywhere. 

But anyway, in the third smaller one I do like the simple stripes of pale colours pasted gently upon the soft yellow sky. Colours seem diffused at that hour and also seem to meld into one another. I am beginning to really enjoy this time for painting.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 13 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

    Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 13 March, 2021, oil on   canvas board, 30 X 25 cm


Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 13 March, 2021, oil on canvas board, 25 X 20 cm

16 March 2021

Bejiing, behold the beauty in the eye of the artist

Credit...Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

The terrible beauty of pollution now affecting Beijing is revealed in these two photographs. Apparently due to a dust storm to the northwest of the country, the air quality is at a minimum. There isn't much to say except that I find these pictures quite extraordinary. Though I cannot imagine what it would be like to live under such conditions, there is beauty in the eyes of the two photographers.

Credit...Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

13 March 2021

System D and the dream of barely nothing


   30 X 20, approximately, early 2000 oil on canvas board

A curious little thing which I made back in Dieulefit and landlocked in the Drôme region of France, maybe back in the early 2000's. A friend took it before I packed up everything to move to Australia.

It was made from almost nothing, a mere afterthought, or hardly a thought at all. This is why I liked it. It was a kind of dream in my head which expressed an image which would later become real for me. For me it works as simple as it is. On certain days, I can see the same sea and sky here in Australia. 

The following is one with a similar drawing, done in early 2020. I had written on the back of it a note to myself that it was made from a palette of just the tiniest pinch of titanium white. I remember it well for I had no white in my bag, I had forgotten to replenish it. I found only the smallest bit to recuperate from  the mouth of an empty tube by using a small stick.

I went to work anyway on this little canvas board. What can one do? Without Titanium white, one is stuffed. But I was determined to paint something that evening so I was pleased to find a solution. 

White paint is a necessity, and I use a lot of it. One could possibly make a very surreal-looking painting without it I suppose, but it would be a strange new planet. Now I keep extra tubes in my bag and in the car boot.

In French they call this sort of improvisational skill, System D. It dates back to WWII when everything broke down continually out in the war zone. With few tools, soldiers had to use all their wits about them to sort things out and get things working again. 

"Démerdez-vous!" (get out of the shit) was what their superiors shouted at them on some foreign soil while staring at a broken axle millions of miles away from a garage. Hence, 'System D' in the abbreviated form.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 11 January, 2020, oil on canvas, 22 X 16 cm

12 March 2021

an army of clouds, navigating the far horizon

Here are a few things from this past week. None of them came easily.

It has been tricky navigating the rain at the beach. I generally don't go out unless there is some light lurking somewhere in the sky because  in my time, I have done my share of dark, lightless landscapes. My northern beast died a while back, so no more lifeless skies for me. 

Generally, when I arrive at the beach my will heart sink if I see an ocean of clouds lined up like enemy tanks overhead. 

Quite simply, they are difficult to draw, and very complicated to work into an open, large area which retreats backward, receding into the horizon line. 

From a beach perspective, the sky overhead is  vast and open, large enough for all the armies on earth. The problem is that it also represents space, but in perspective. Though I love Matisse and the Fauves, I don't always fall into their flat graphic abstraction (but I secretly love it when they do). It all depends upon the kind of picture one has set up.

The trick to pushing the sky back into the painting isn't just concerned with the drawing but also with colour. Cool colours, for the most part recede, while warm ones advance. This is both the secret and remedy to working out in the landscape.

I have so little time to organise my drawing around this army of clouds because I am only there at the end of the afternoon when dusk begins to settle in, so I need to see something in the motif, then quickly make it happen. When I do, this is when the Expressionist comes out in me. I jump into action, I stop thinking and execute. Then comes a kind of battle, which I hate losing, a battle  lasting but minutes, not hours or days.

Just the other night I rubbed out my second painting. In four years, I have only rubbed out 3 or 4, maybe. I see this as great progress because in a previous life I routinely rubbed out, and destroyed several in a week out of vengeful and childish anger. 

So, I am lucky that I have learned to stick with these things as weird as they look, as awful as they may seem. I respect the element of time and reflection, luckily I keep almost all of them. Of course I will cull them later on, but only much later on, months, years even, for Time is the mysterious judge and arbiter.

A painter (me), needs a lot of time away from the work in order to be able to see pictures clearly, independently, away from my own bias and desires. Maybe a little like love.


 Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 7 March 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

                Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 6 March 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

 Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 7 March 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 6 March 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

11 March 2021

Lydia Davis thinks about memory and painting regarding painter Joan Mitchell


The following is a reprint of an article from ARTFORUM magazine. I clipped it from an email they sent me this week. 

Being a big fan of Lydia Davis but not of Joan Mitchell, I was very, very curious to read it. It is not clear to me at all whether there was more to this essay because it seemed to stop on the proverbial dime, and it left me feeling short-changed somehow.

Ms Davis is a prolific writer with so much to say about so much that I cannot believe that she would stop in mid-air like Road Runner on television.

However, it is what it is, as they say. I find it fascinating what she has to say about first seeing a painting, then living with the memory of it. And yes, she does cram a lot into this small essay. So much that I will have to read it again and again. In the meantime, it lives a little like a dream in my head, there, but not. 

I understand that many people do not appreciate her way of looking fastidiously (it seems) at everything like a Zen-scientist Buddhist, all wrapped up in the same robe. As a writer, she has the inquisitive nature of a brilliant child, pestering, probing, unrelenting and precociously naive. One either likes this about her or doesn't. 

Being a somewhat fastidious person myself, I like her especially because she picks everything apart like a famished dog. 

My aunt whom I didn't see often at all while growing up, but with whom I had a very close feeling, surprised me one day when I was barely 13 or so, because she said seemingly out of the blue:

"Chrissie, you would make a great lawyer".

Ha Ha,... but in a certain way, it was true, and she saw something in me which I could not see myself. This is often the case when one is a child, and that can be a scary proposition. But, it is true today that I am a stickler for meaning, and just how words can lead us close to the truth, or away from it. (Unfortunately though, I missed the boat entirely on how to read people emotionally), and in fact, I do drive my brother, among others, crazy with my pedantic discourses.

I love how Ms. Davis dives into the idea about what it means "to be an abstract painting", and like a crime reporter, she investigates the nature of a painting's transcendence without ever mentioning the word.

When she understands and accepts an abstract painting to be something unintelligible on its own terms, perhaps so impenetrable, and so personal by nature, it seems to make logical sense for her, yet when she discovers that 'abstract painting could contain references to subject matter' she suddenly finds herself lost to its meaning. This is a fascinating way of approaching this difficult discussion from the back end, in reverse. 

...'It becomes a mystery, a problem.' 

Why? is the logical question I want to know.= 

But to answer this is to understand and articulate the paradoxical ambiguities of Painting. And she may very well because moreover, she is a writer, and rhetoric is one of her favourite tools.

I rarely come across such clarity when discussing Painting. A painted picture when it works, is a mystery, and can never be fully grasped any more than one could grab fireworks or lightening in the sky. They both stay in the mind, but everlasting in the memory. Only the really brave delve into it with words. 

A painting, like a poem, must be like a woman out on the town, revealing just enough, but not too much, too soon anyway.   


I START WITH THE FACT that Les Bluets (The cornflowers) is the painting I think of first when I think of one that has had particular significance in my life. Then I have to figure out why. I am not even certain that Les Bluets was the actual painting I saw. What I did see was a very large white and blue painting by Joan Mitchell in her studio more than twenty years ago, and that is the one I am thinking of.

To get closer to the actual experience of seeing the painting, I first confirm or revise some of my memories of visiting her at Vétheuil, of her strong personality, of my life in Paris. Then I remember more, more than I need to, about where I was living, and how I worked at my writing, driving myself relentlessly to do better and more, with moments of pleasure, but often a hounding sense of obligation, a fear that if I did not work terribly hard something would catch up with me—perhaps the possibility that I did not need to be doing this.

I would take the train out of the city, with its closed spaces, its darkness, to the village of Vétheuil, 69 kilometers to the north. A blue gate at the level of the street opened to a climb on foot to the house, a terrace before the front door. The view from the hilltop was of a landscape managed, orderly: poplars by the winding river, and a village on the far bank. The grounds, the rooms in the house, and the mealtimes were also orderly, though I did not give much thought, then, to the value of order. Monet had once lived here, though at the base of the hill, in what was now the gardener’s cottage. His first wife, Camille, was buried in a cemetery beyond the garden.

On one visit I walked out to Mitchell’s studio to look at a painting. I don’t know if this was the first time I went into her studio. I liked the painting, very much, and thought there was no problem with the way I looked at it. It was what it was, shapes and colors, white and blue. Then I was told by Joan or someone else that it referred to the landscape here in Vétheuil, specifically to cornflowers. Whatever I had known or not known about painting before, this was a surprise to me, even a shock. Apparently I had not known that an abstract painting could contain references to subject matter. Two things happened at once: the painting abruptly went beyond itself, lost its solitariness, acquired a relationship to fields, to flowers; and it changed from something I understood into something I did not understand, a mystery, a problem.

Later I could try to figure it out: there had to be visual clues in the picture. Were all, or only some, of the elements in it clues? If the lighter, scattered, or broken areas of blue referred to cornflowers, what did the blocks of darker blue refer to, and the opulent white? Or were all the elements clues but some of them to private, unknowable subjects? Was this a representation of an emotional response to cornflowers, or to a memory of cornflowers?

I like to understand things and tend to ask questions of myself or another person until there is nothing left that I do not understand. At the time, in the midst of a period when I was training myself so hard in another kind of representation, and seeing more and more clearly into the subtlest workings of my language, I was confronted with this experience of opacity.

I had had other striking experiences of incomprehension, the most extended being the weeks I spent in an Austrian first-grade class listening to the German language, before it began to change slowly, a fragment at a time, to something I could understand. Years later, when translating French texts into English, I struggled so hard with the meaning of certain complex sentences that I was sure I felt this struggle physiologically inside my brain—the little currents of electricity sparked, traveled, leaped forward against the problem, fell back, leaped again from a different side, failed. But this experience caught me unprepared, in its novel form—no words, but three panels of blue and white.

Eventually I began to find answers to my questions, but they were not complete answers, and after a time I did not feel the need for complete answers, because I saw that part of the force of the painting was that it continued to elude explanation. I became willing to allow aspects of the painting to remain mysterious, and I became willing to allow aspects of other problems to remain unsolved as well, and it was this new tolerance for, and then satisfaction in, the unexplained and unsolved that marked a change in me.

Even now, just by remaining so mysteriously fixed in my memory, the painting poses a question that, once again, remains even after I have attempted to answer it, and that is, not how does the painting work, but how does the memory of the painting work?

08 March 2021

Monday! a day for Piero della Francesca!


I can never get enough of Piero.

They say (some idiot back in the day) that all roads lead back to Rome, well, in the world of Painting, all pictures lead us back to Arezzo, and Piero della Francesca. 

I believe somehow that there is enough in his work to please everyone, everyone who is genuinely interested in Art, even Post-Modernists, maybe just. 

I took these close-ups at the National Gallery, a place where I usually spend all day when in London. Just in these few details reveals a hidden world of something quite sacred, but in a sensual way, a pleasurable way, something so fleetingly sweet that few of us are allowed to remember it, even if we have experienced it.

It's as we have been given a peek of a perfect dream world to which we are forbidden access. And if it does indeed exist, it's just not for us.... or is it? 

It reminds me of what some people say about being around the Uber Rich, sleeping aboard a Gulfstream above the Atlantic, sunning oneself on a private yacht the size of baseball diamonds; 'If the poor knew what they were missing, there would be blood in the streets'. 

But in the end, we all hear about the lives led by the Rich, no matter how much money one has, one still has to face one's ageing body, and also, most of the time, in tandem, a decayed mind as well. So they say, anyway.

But this dream paradise which Piero offers up to us has nothing to do with material wealth even though social scientists might disagree. 

Non! Piero offers us something different, even more extraordinary; He opens up a window of light and the possibility for real joy on this earth. He offers up an interruption of our own jaded sense of importance, preventing us from being in this present moment, eternally. 

And yes, these are white women from a European aristocratic culture (though in truth Italians almost always on the darker side) These women seem to resemble women of the North, in fact. But all that does not mean that its vision is not universal. He illustrates for us a kind of spirituality, but a secular one for all. If I remember correctly, the three women above are the Three Muses, maybe not.

But I am not just speaking of the content, though it is extraordinary. As a painter I am speaking of the sheer joy in the painting. 

In these works, I am always astounded by the colour, colours which have been seeped in light, bathed and pampered in it. Handled with great care like a newborn, this colourful luminosity had never before seen the light of day. No one had ever painted like Piero, before him, or since.  And one had to wait until Cézanne to witness again something similar to this effervescent light.

I approach him not as a professor nor as an historian, but thankfully just as a painter. His frescoes are not to be understood in a book or indeed lectured about, or locked up in a museum, but to be seen and grasped in our own work as painters of the 21 century. Piero asks questions of us, demands that we attempt answers to them. 

How does one construct a picture? How do colours work together to create harmony, and why is this necessary? Can we live without it? What is Light in a painting? And is Light the same as Luminosity? How do we see these pictures, lodge them in our memory, then take them home with us? As painters, what do we then learn from them?

Is all his delicious work just a remnant of a distant past and disconnected from our world of today? Personally, I see the future of Painting in it. 

06 March 2021

British sculptor Emily Young, and the birds of pathos singing stones

While driving home from the beach the other night I listened to a BBC interview with the British sculptor Emily Young with whom I was not familiar. The interview took place last year in Tuscany where she lives and works. I was fascinated and kept listening upon arriving at home. 

After seeing her work I vaguely remembered that I had noticed her marble works here and there from time to time. But apparently I was not curious enough about the images to find out more about her. Possibly I was not taken with it.

But the interview triggered my curiosity. And though she had a way of speaking about the marble which almost sounded like a cliché; (like how for instance, the stone informed her what was going to come out of at the very moment when she first touched it) I stayed with it anyway and soon realised when I googled her and that she really had something. 

It's a great reminder of just how judgemental I can be before I have all the facts. Hmmmm. But I am learning. 

I also think that the images I had previously seen of her work, felt overly stylised and somehow I couldn't get past it. I didn't understand it. Thankfully, I have had a second chance to re-adjust my feelings and thoughts about her sculptures.

I will let the images speak for themselves, and any information about her can be gleaned from the net. She is a very well renowned sculptor in Britain but certainly celebrated worldwide, and she is deserving of her recognition. I will look for her on my next trip to Britain. I imagine that many of the following pieces are situated outdoors in gardens and terraces, posed upon places where the stone can again sing to birds.

She is obviously a very gifted woman both as a sculptor and as an artist, with something unique to say to our world, and adding something to it. There is also an edge to her work which centres upon the paradox between the inchoate and the ruin which is crucial to her personal artistic sensibility. 

There is a famous anecdote of a young boy looking at a life-size marble of a lion, he asked Michelangelo how was it that he knew that a lion was already inside the block of marble? 

This provokes a greatest mystery of what art is all about. Is it an artist's intuition, or the 'Muses' from the heavens which whispers into an artist's ear? Does an artist need to ask permission to pull an image out of a stone or canvas? Or is the creative act executed with the zeal of a convict about to die? Myself, I take a road between heaven and earth and declare (for myself only) that it is the ritual; the habit of hard work over the long haul which gives up secrets to those willing to sacrifice everything (worldly) for their craft.

Emily Young stops her work just at that place where Rodin really begins to get into it. As much as I as love everything about Auguste Rodin (especially his drawings and watercolours), he attains such perfection that I secretly desire the opposite from him, something faulty and fragile, a thing heroically human, for instance. His art is godly. Ditto, for Michelangelo whose finished work is too finished and polished. (David, sacré bleu! what was he thinking?) Personally, I prefer his unfinished slaves. 

Emily Young's work dares to exist on its own terms; androgynous heads, barely released from the underworld of adamantine ambiguity.  

What moves me also is her own apparent surrender to Pathos, an unsentimental predisposition to it, or perhaps an acceptance to it really. It is a sensibility which only great artists possess I think. 

And I share this predisposition in my own work. I sense it as an integral part of any art form, be it poetry, music, cinema or painting, writing, even architecture, ....... the works; everything truly noble already possesses within the seeds of suffering and sorrow. 

Yet of course, revealing this, does not mean that I am a brooding malcontent without a sense of humour. For humour is just on the other side of pathos, a place where the ironic denial of our own mortality reigns supreme.

In any event, Emily Young is the real deal.