Exhibition: 21st May to 30th June, 2010
Maddox Arts is pleased to present the work of two artists who share a sensibility for immortalising the voice of the absent. ‘I See Alone Sometimes’ is a paraphrasing of Neruda’s poem Death Alone. The show contains a series of graphite drawings on tracing paper by Argentinean artist, Mercedes Baliarda, combined with a set of twelve silk-screen images by English artist, Peter Griffin. For this exhibition Griffin and Baliarda have also produced new work namely Griffin’s ‘I know only the skin of the earth and I know it has no name’ and Baliarda’s ‘The meanings will dissolve like clouds and fall like rain.’
Baliarda and Griffin encapsulate philosophical questions that are reflected in their work. Griffin explores existential notions of the individual person; their emotions, actions, and thoughts. In his work the artist responds and gives form to Albert Camus’s existentialist phrase, ‘the absurdity of life’. By contrast, Baliarda produces work that serves as a memento mori. Fragile flowers and skulls suggest, at first sight, a decorative and unchallenging nature that rapidly changes when the spectator examines their metaphoric function. The delicacy and harmony apparent in her drawings silently documents the death of a living organism; elevating the harmless beauty of these flowers as they become a warning of the inevitability of death.
The works presented in this exhibition rely on metaphors to express life and death. Griffin’s set of twelve prints inspired by Chilean Nobel laureate, Pablo Neruda, revives and visually documents the poet’s literary achievements. By fusing the written word of a poet that documented social oppression and enduring love with the imagery of an artist who explores the meaning of life we can experience the emotional complexity of the human condition. In revisiting one of the poems the artist used for the original exhibition, created in conjunction with the Neruda foundation to mark the 25th anniversary of the poet’s death, Griffin has produced a new large scale mixed media piece, which reflects on how society identifies and labels the individual for its own purposes.
In contrast, Baliarda employs a different method of production to capture the fragility of life. The artist draws wild flowers and skulls on tracing paper in order to defy a superficial understanding of human nature. ‘Through both realms for ever’ comprises a series of graphite skull drawings on layered tracing paper. In this composition, the artist employs pressed flowers to symbolise the essence of human life. Physical senses are embodied in petals, twigs and leaves suggesting an intricate yet awkward relation between life and death. Nature is incorporated into Baliarda’s drawings not only to achieve a sense of harmony but also to serve as a reminder of death.
Baliarda and Griffin are committed to perpetuating intellectual forces in their work, bringing the rawness of nature into the context of the sublime. ‘I See Alone Sometimes’ explores the work of two artists that devote creativity and spirituality to preserve the living memory of the dead in time and space. Neruda once wrote: ‘This broken bell still wants to sing’. He always saw the bell as something that was used as a form of communication and thus perceived it as a metaphor for the poet This quote aptly describes the sentiment behind ‘I See Alone Sometimes’.