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...Who can say what goes into my work.
Not even I would say it
The Ďgoings iní mean nothing in the balance
The work represents itself
It is the manifest invention, a religious practice...

New Direct Sadnesss

Finding Unique Modern Expression In Root2Art

What Expression In Art Meant To Me In 2002

Below is a contrived interview I wrote in 2002. I made it up as I felt at the time that the form might help me shape what I was trying to discuss. The pseudo conversation is a bit heady and makes me cringe now when I read it, but I thought I would include it as it says something about my attitude to my work at the time.

In 2002 I was an internet virgin and saw my art within a very different context. My gage on what the contemporary trends in art were doing was what I saw in the Turner Prize and the commercial Galleries In London. Needless to say I never saw my work as being related these UK art currents. Talking about expression in art, I guess became one way of articulating the distinction between what was considered cutting edge and what I was doing.

Below the interview I talk about how this attitude has changed over the last few years.

R.F. The discussion of art has become an integral part of what is now considered the domain of the visual arts. What importance does art criticism have for you as an artist?

H.R. I understand there are many artists for whom the very starting point of their work is often an idea in the philosophical or perhaps psychological or sociological sense. For me, I have no way of translating a concept essentially comprising of words into the visual artistic language that comprise my compositions. That's not to say however that some kind of related dialogue is not helpful, if not, simply enjoyable to others. I myself, having very little knowledge and no first hand insight into the creation of music, find interviews with composers and musicians sometimes intensely interesting. I guess I'm not seeking anything concrete from discussion of this nature, no conceptual truth, but perhaps a feeling for a composers or musicians musical personality. A sense of how the characteristics of his music relates to his characteristics as a human being. As in general, I'm careful not to get too carried away by this kind of analysis for its own sake, relying more on feel then idea.
I have noticed in listening to discussions with artists and composers, and I see this as applying to myself, that they often have a number of favoured words they frequently use in relation to their work. Of course the definition of a single word is not a concrete thing. I think what is important when listening to artists speak about their work is being prepared to extend and adapt one's own concept of key terms used and try to get a feel for what an artists vocabulary means to him. I also often feel different terms used by different artist are employed as an attempt to describe the same thing. This thing being essentially beyond definition and description. An artist could perhaps refuse to speak on the subject of his work as a safe guard from being misinterpreted or in avoidance of the problems of articulation. I can only see in today's world some kind of related dialogue will ensue or even precipitate an artist's exposure to the public.

R.F. You use the word expression frequently in conversation about art and your work. Does this term have a special meaning or importance for you?

H.R. Yes, I feel "expression" is probably not a fashionable word within the contemporary art arena. This maybe in part due to connotations created by the wake of "Expressionism", but I feel moreover it is a word irrelevant to many contemporary artists' agendas. "This work expresses" has been supplanted by "This work deals with". I think most people associate the word expression more readily with music than with art. It's likely the same people would consider an expressive piece of music to be one that stirs the emotions to some degree. When I use the word expression I am rarely thinking in emotional terms, indeed emotion is something I positively seek to avoid in the expression of my work. This is not because emotion is something I seek to avoid in life, but rather that I wish to create an expression that transcends emotion.
I use the word in a purely visual sense. To offer a definition, I feel expression within art is that which is intuitively felt through the sole experience of visual forces. Expression like this is beyond words and beyond analysis. It is beyond subject and object. Beyond truth and falsehood.

R.F. Do you have a clear feel for the expression you wish to create in your work?

H.R. I think I have a very clear feel of what I do not want to express. As I have said, the point at which I am aiming is beyond the limitation of a concept and really has no reality outside the work, nor as the work objectively itself. I suppose my approach has become to conscientiously avoid the nurturing and fostering of expressive bents as they invariable start to appear during the creative process. I do not set out to express horror, joy, solemnity, glory, mystery and so on. I am instead careful to neutralize any such characteristic. This may sound like the stifling of creativity, yet it is how I make an effort reach a wholly universal expression free from associable and symbolic agenda that seduces the intellect and may distort the view of the whole. We might say it is an expression of all and yet nothing that I'm looking for. The timeless, colourless expression that allows great art from the past to stir us profoundly centuries after its functions and meanings have been forgotten.

R.F. Are you suggesting that intellectual analysis obstructs true discernment of expression?

H.R. I wouldn't say there is one true expression to be discerned, as the work, the viewer and the conditions under which the viewer views are not constant. All things and relationships are constantly changing. True discernment, I believe, would be the experience of this boundless change. I am fooling myself when I talk about attempting to create an expression, because the work of art is given it's life by an invariably capricious viewer. But yes, if there is any heart in my work and you want to see it, it will quickly fade under an intellectual onslaught.

R.F. How do we actually manage to approach art in this way?

H.R. We just look!

R.F. By the act of discussing your work do you not feel you are being seduced by the very intellectualising you wish the viewers of your work to abandon?

H.R. I often feel seduced by the ideal. I delude myself with the ideal of avoiding all ideals. I used to believe I only needed recourse to words in connection with my work when I failed to express myself visually. Yet as I have expressed earlier, in today's world, this is probably an extreme view. I believe intellectual analysis when understood as simply intellectual analysis, has an important and enriching role within the appreciation of art. I don't feel I'm asking anyone to abandon analysis like this. I hope by sharing some of my analysis I can provide an alternative avenue into my work for those who seek it.
One inspiration for me in speaking on the subject of my work has been the president set by a current tide of popular science publications, which in part, aim to demystify a subject that has suffered from an esoteric atmosphere for centuries. It seems to me that the science world helps itself maintain respect and support amongst the public by continuing to make accessible a well-informed yet un-intimidating dialogue.

Rethinking Emotional Expression In 2006

Logic Feeling
The title ĎNew Direct Sadnessí, to me at least, has this dichotomy between cool logic and human feeling. The Composition above, ĎI Can Not Say It 2006í also explores this theme, but maybe too literally. There is a superficial dichotomy of language in the way it is constructed out of both bitmap and vector elements. I donít feel that one method is intrinsically anymore organic or logical than the other, but the juxtaposition creates a visual texture that is in tune with the expression I wanted to achieve. Iíve broken the rule of these Geometrics pages here and shown the composition in colour. Maybe the colour helps to root it more in the emotional sphere by relinquishing some of the austerity of monochrome. Iím not sure yet. Iíve introduced colour many times to my work over the years, but on every occasion to date its been as an attempt to bring to life when Iíve failed to resolve a tonal structure. Like this it is a temporary fix, until I get to grips with the fundamental structure.

The Quick Fix Of Colour
I feel with the way I work, that a composition containing colour information can be distilled down into black and white making the dynamics and architecture more readable. Adding colour to an already resolved monochrome composition may add a little sensuality, but at the cost of purity and clarity, which personally I regard as more essential to the expression I seek. I donít think colour will become a significant part of my visual language in the near future, but who knows for sure?

Bronze Lion - The Forbidden City, Beijing



Sesshu - Winter Landscape (Tokyo National Museum)

Hokusai - Wave

New Direct Sadness
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