Broken, age 12
The foundations of the archaic theme originate from the realization that colours need to become muted in order to express realism, which is something that the process of textile art and photography helped me to uncover.
Through the experience of the dye from my first silk scarf washing out to leave a transparent pastel pallet after painting it in much deeper hues, turning out to be a happy accident when I realized I preferred the muted tones; and through learning that photography is more effective at converting a message when a subject is isolated, I began to add more and more grey value to my work.
Broken, ink drawings from 2003 at age 13
Frality can be represented in two ways to me..
When I muse with idea of frailty I sometimes write it out phonetically in order to align it with a meaning more adjacent to regality, royalty as frail-a-tea.
Think of an English royal tea: a delicate satchel of loose leaf carefully bound in a fine cloth with the likeness of silk. Think of a raccoon of brittle pieces of heat treated leaf that resemble to broken pieces of the wing of a common grey month. Think of a leaf that is visually closest to the end state of rot, dehydrated and fully absent of the essence of life and all that comes with the state of being living, and yet it is somehow still fragrant, floral, rich in flavour that can be quite powerful and even overwhelming if not tempered with milk, in spite of being in a deteriorated state.
Frailty is sort of the natural fusion of structure and delicacy, something found in the wild untamed spaces of the world and yet – equal to a degree to the characteristics of manmade pedigree.
It can be leaning on the causality of ill health, and yet in nature it speaks to the absence of human intervention – which is considered the heart of our difference to the other animals of the world.
A desaturated pretty pastel pallor. Fractal divisions of granular grey illusions between the palest of hues across the spectrum. Up close you may distinguish the hues by the the different fractal planes they are on but from afar like grains of sand in concrete they turn to an overarching static-shade of grey.
Fragility: The Distinguishment
Frailness as a way of being which is separate from fragility as the latter implies a breaking point.
However even though anything that is frail should be handled as if it were fragile, something that is fragile does not necessarily have to be treated as it is frail.
Something that is fragile still may have points of strength, where it is firmly rooted, and a source of life, the needs of the living. Something that is frail can have already died. Something that is frail can be in essence a mummified shadow of what once was, where as something that is fragile might still be at the height of it’s vibrancy, even young.
When something is living and frail, being carefully treated however may not be enough to revitalize it’s strength or vitality, rather it is a prolongment of the next state (being disintegration, turning to dust), but if something is fragile care is all it may take to carry on living a full and ample life.
Frailty can be borrowing on the structural entwinement of delicate branches, but it doesn’t reference the relation to the trunk unless of course the rest of the tree has been weakened.
The intrinsic difference comes down to the core – do further stages of life and with it aging run through it? Or should it not be handled at all in fear of the object crumbling into dust?
Handling something that is frail should in fact be avoided in it’s entirety, but something that is fragile usually has something that is anchored to that can be touched. You would not lift a bonsai tree by it’s leaf but would hold it from it’s planter, but if you chose to caress the leaf it would be fine. If that tree were to die and could still be transported by it’s base, you would likely avoid handling the plant itself any further, as once a lead has fallen it will no longer regrow.
Going through life with a perpetual illness that leaves you weakened is also difference than than a perpensity for falling from a weak ankle. Ultimately, fragility has a breaking point that can be repaired, but frailty is a state of already being broken beyond repair.
Why now is this ontological question important to me as an artist?
Ever since I was young I have been interested in the later stages of life because I was confronted with death as a child – while I was sick and hospitalized for a long time in a ward where children my age were being treated for terminal illnesses. It was while I was sick that I began to take drawing and painting seriously. My first serious themes in art were about psychological distress and expression of torment and I was still only a child while contemplating those themes. My first oil paintings after trying out a few floral motifs were abstracts that were supposed to represent the journey to the new world by explorers, and I didn’t think of their mental state as having been full of wonder I thought they must have been traumatized from travelling across the ocean for so long. To this day I still consider my work to be an evolution of that theme to a degree. But as I was saying, while I was sick as a very young child I found that drawing owls was one of my favourite past-times, because I had insomnia and would go to my homework they would send to me and read about the nocturnal creatures, and I would find comfort in drawing there eyes as big warm circles. I still to this day find something comforting in the layering of brown feathers and it is a texture that emerges sometimes in my work by accident even when I am just being expressive.
My health improved for a short time before I was exposed to further physical trauma while in high school and so for a few years I developed into a teenager and improved my craft, but then I was once again faced with a sudden down swing in my health. I started to experience migraines and poor circulation, I realized that I would get sick more easily when I was stuck indoors – I blame the combination of over-heating and breathing in the same air as my classmates for too long in likely asbestos lined rooms – and as a remedy I found that I could strengthen myself by exposing myself to cold air more often. So while comfort was achieved in air-tight rooms I found that the abandon of the winter landscape was more of a threat to my health than going out and bracing myself for the cold ever was. I began to appreciate the piercing cold air in my lungs, and would remind myself of the luxury of the same sensation swimming in a cold depths of a clean pool of water in the summertime. I felt that the winter air must be a disinfectant and would rid my lungs of anything that had latched on while I was in school that day.
On the way home I would entertain myself with the sight of the winter landscape – the dried plants – the evergreens – the rotten ground – the dirt in the snow – as ugly as it all could be after awhile I realized how much I wanted to become great at drawing the leafless tangles of trees and brush. I wanted to capture the beauty in winter because I felt that it had been forgotten. I realized that in prior centuries people probably enjoyed travelling by sled and ski and snow-shoe, but that the effects of roads melting the snow that the conditions were no longer even feasible. Advantageous for industry but disadvantageous for our health and obviously distracting from what a pristine winter scape can offer that is beautiful even when it chills you to the core.
I think there is something ironic that in order to strengthen oneself from the communicable diseases that prosper in our artificial environments of comfort one must return to the wild and breathe in the natural world as it is offered in the winter – even though it’s very purpose which is to make everything living either die or hibernate. You make yourself more frail when you are experiencing winter conditions to an excess if you aren’t battling it’s temperatures through layers of warmth and feeding yourself adequately, but with that being said in making yourself go through those conditions you are less likely to be fragile in the sense that you get sick and are taken over by fever, or have a cold, or for someone like me become stricken with asthmatic pneumonia which is extremely more severe than the average flu.
There is no better season to confront the complexities of mortality in art than winter and as someone who was born in late November I guess it makes sense that as an artist this was the stratosphere that I got my start.