Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts is hosting a unique pairing of two local artists; The Infinite Smallness of Being features paintings by Raemon Rolfe and photography by David Lupton. Both well-known artists working in different media but sharing a vision, Rolfe and Lupton have combined to present an exhibition celebrating the small and often unseen elements which make up our universe. Raemon Rolfe will exhibit seven small diptychs produced using oil paint mixed with wax medium and incorporating particles of materials such as sand, ash and marble dust to build up textures as well as adding meaning to the works. David Lupton will show thirteen works printed in black and white: three A2, nine A3 and one approximately A5. The photographs were printed with a pigment printer on Ilford Gold Fibre Silk photographic paper. They are strictly one-off images not an edition as the work is part of an ongoing collaborative project David is working on with a Brazilian poet and author. The images in the exhibition are essentially publication ‘proofs’ and each bears as its title the title of a poem it will illustrate in a future publication.
The Infinite Smallness of Being is best explained by the artists themselves in the paragraphs that follow. The exhibition will open on Friday evening 13th July from 5-7pm at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts, 33 George Street, Palmerston North. The public is cordially invited to view the exhibition, meet the artists and celebrate the pairing over drinks and nibbles. The exhibition will continue through the 1st of August.
“The processes that occur in the universe at the smallest end of the scale have been a continuing source of inspiration for me” writes Raemon Rolfe. “In his book of poems ‘On the Nature of Things’, Lucretius, Roman poet and philosopher (96?-55BC) wrote that ‘nature ever by unseen processes works’. He was referring to the theories of the ancient Greek atomists 500 years before that, who believed that all matter was made of atoms or indivisible particles. In modern particle physics, the uncertain world of quantum mechanics explains how all matter and energy in the universe behaves on an atomic and subatomic level.
“The idea that we are made up of atoms and that those atoms have consciousness and curiosity so that we can wonder about our place in the universe, is the theme of the series of seven small diptychs. The poem ‘An Atom in the Universe’ by theoretical physicist Richard Feynman was the inspiration.”
David Lupton says “I have been thinking a lot about a part of a poem by my friend Adriana Lisboa, it’s not the complete poem, it is the half that keeps floating around like a seductive cloud in a darkening sky that I cannot stop looking at. It’s a challenge to fill emptiness with the universal while trying to describe the near nothingness of simple things. How to see what is invisible at the same time and capture both in a fraction of a second. These photographs are the start of that journey, the journey of exploring these two realms of the real.
Portion of a poem by Adriana Lisboa, translated from the Portuguese by Alison Entrekin:
In the quietest place in the world
There’s a rustling of life
Man is made of blood and neurons
Which sing their own song
Without sheet music or I Ching
There’s no such thing as silence
Form is emptiness
Emptiness is form
And it all fits into
Four minutes and thirty
‘An Atom in the Universe’ by Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988) was the inspiration for Raemon’s work in this exhibition:
There are the rushing waves, mountains of molecules
Each stupidly minding its own business
Trillions apart yet forming white surf in unison.
Ages on ages, before any eyes could see
Year after year thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet, with no life to entertain.
Never at rest, tortured by energy
Wasted prodigiously by the sun, poured into space
A mite makes the sea roar.
Deep in the sea all molecules repeat the patterns
Of one another till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves
And a new dance starts.
Growing in size and complexity
Living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein
Dancing a pattern ever more intricate.
Out of the cradle onto dry land
Here it is standing
Atoms with consciousness, matter with curiosity.
Stands at the sea, wonders at wondering:
I, a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe
Rolfe’s brief biography states: “I’m self-taught contemporary artist. Being an artist was not seen as a viable career option in the 1960s so after graduating in geography in 1969, I entered teaching in 1970. Creativity, however, was an important part of our family life; my father was a draftsman and engineer, my mother drew and painted, and I learnt to draw and paint from an early age. Various summer school workshops were inspirational and I have continued to explore oil painting procedures and techniques and have had regular exhibitions since the late 1960s. In 1985 I joined the art department at Palmerston North Girls’ High School. Twenty-five years of art teaching and practice across a wide range of disciplines including painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, digital art and art history have given me a versatility of form and medium, and my studies in geography, the sciences and philosophy are a continuing source of inspiration.”
David Lupton is a well-known Palmerston North photographer whose most recent general audience publication was Between the Rivers: The Manawatu co-authored with Bettina Anderson in 2012. Lupton is also the co-owner with Ms Anderson of Hau Nui Press, a boutique publishing company based in the Manawatu. In 1995, The Palmerston North Public Library published Lupton’s Everybody’s Somebody, a book of intimate portraits of Manawatu persona based on his 1993 exhibition of the same title.
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