Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yūgen - An Exhibition of New Paintings


Yugen (幽玄): (Japanese noun) - an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious to be described.  Yūgen is said to mean “a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe…”



There is nothing you can see that is not a flower;
there is nothing you can think that is not the moon.
Matsuo Basho (1644 ~ 1694)


Yūgen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art in Japan and is an important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics.
It values the power to evoke, rather than the ability to state directly. Yūgen is a Japanese word that has no English counterpart. It has been described as “strictly speaking an untranslatable word’. Further to this, it is essentially an indescribable word, at least in the context of other words. Yūgen suggests the beyond thatwhich can be said but is not an allusion to another world. It is about this world, this experience. It describes the profound grace and subtlety inherent in all things. These ideals, and others, underpin much of Japanese cultural and aesthetic norms on what is considered tasteful or beautiful. Thus, while seen as a philosophy in Western societies, the concept of aesthetics in Japan is seen as an integral part of daily life.

In Japanese waka poetry, the word Yūgen was used to describe the subtle profundity of things that are only vaguely suggested by the poems, and was also the name of a style of poetry. Japanese Haiku poetry also contains a strong element of Yūgen. The haiku offers a direct intuitive penetration into nature, and life, which offers insight, joy and truth to readers. A simple verse captures a multi-sensory experience of the profound beauty of life. 


How reluctantly 
the bee emerges from the deep 
within the peony
Matsuo Basho (1644 ~ 1694)

 Over the past decade, my work has been inspired by the sacred arts of a number of Asian countries and particularly the arts of Japan. Be it a scroll painting, a monk’s calligraphy koan or a beautifully woven kimono, these ancient objects capture the essence of timeless simplicity and beauty inherent in all things. Such a concept offers a welcomed reprieve from the stress, noise and hustle-bustle of this modern day.



The paintings in this exhibition combine the influences of: The ancient artwork from Japan, an understanding of Yūgen, the contemplation of traditional Japanese Haiku and a contemplation of the natural beauty of the natural environment.  With a poetic reverence, monks and artists of ancient Japan painted beautiful depictions of their natural world, the seasons, flora and fauna.
It is with the same sensitivity and with the influence of the Japanese aesthetic that I have chosen to depict the Yūgen in the flight of a bird, flowering blossom or the perfection of pattern of the honeycomb in a bee hive.


Bee Collage (detail)



Areas of empty space rest beside the magnification of leaves and flowers, allowing the viewer to experience both a focus the shapes and also the space to contemplate the details of these forms.  The voids of space within these works suggest a magical, ‘alive’ dimension beyond the material. ‘Form’ and the ‘formless’combine to create a sense of harmonious balance.

Materials used in these paintings incorporate a collection of vintage Japanese fabrics, wallpapers and metallic leaf and foil; combined onto the canvas with screen printed patterns, paint and encaustic wax. 
Precious Obi and kimono fragments included in these works have been hand selected from travels to Japan and antique bazaars. These beautiful and rare treasures ignite a fascination of a time when life was perhaps more simple than in this modern day. These fabrics in themselves spark a sense of Yūgen. The haiku poems chosen also evoke a quiet contemplation of the simplicity yet incredible beauty of life on earth. 



Bee Collage 3


The paintings are material objects that depict an image which arose from the essence and which, at their highest function, will offer the viewer a window to their own invisible essence of Yūgen within.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

From the Studio


Bee Collage 1 (detail)



Over recent months, my paintings have been inspired by the humble honey bee :)
The importance of the bee has featured highly in the media of recent.  As Einstein said,
"If the Bee Disappeared Off the Face of the Earth, Man Would Only Have Four Years Left To Live".
In addition to this, my beautiful brother James, who has been living and keeping bees in the UK, has recently returned home to Australia. He is quite the bee expert and is kindly teaching me beekeeping as we tend to the new hive in Panton Hill.


The Bee Hive - Complete with Gold Leaf!


While the bush honey this region is quite delicious, I'm much more excited about the bee's wax! A melted concoction of bee's wax and damar varnish makes Encaustic Wax which is a surface that I have applied to almost every work I've painted over the last 15 years.  :)

In celebration of the first wax extracted from the hive, I have used it on the paintings below.


Bee Collage 1 (76cm x 60cm)


Bee Collage 3 (76cm x 76cm)



These collages contain photographs of some local Bee's collecting nectar from flowering plum blossom.
They're printed with Pigmented Ink on Archival Paper and are combined with other collage materials including washi paper, gold leaf, foil, acrylic and silk screen on canvas.

Screen printing is a relatively new addition in my work. Each of these Bee Collages also contain areas of silk screened pattern.  The hexagonal lattice pattern called 'Kikko' was used with great frequency after the beginning of the Heian Period in Japan. While the original design replicated the pattern of a tortise shell, I have used it here to mimic the hexagonal pattern of honeycomb.

Silk-screened Bees have also been printed onto the paintings.


Bee Collage 2 (76cm x 60cm)


Bee Collage 4 (76cm x 76cm)


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

JAPONISM - Part 2

Japonism on You Tube




A big thank you to Kerry Cross also, for his assistance in editing a short YouTube video about 'JAPONISM'.  If you haven't been in to see the exhibition as yet, here's an interview in my art studio interspersed with images of the paintings on display at Montsalvat.






My the year has certainly flown! It's really hard to believe that Spring is just around the corner.... and also that 'JAPONISM' is exhibiting at Montsalvat for just another week or so!
If you haven't been down as yet, here's a little reminder that the last opportunity will be Sunday 24th August. The gallery is open daily from 9am until 5pm.



Manuka - (detail)




Exhibition Opening


I'd dearly love to thank all of you for your wonderful response, support, and feed back regarding 'JAPONISM'  which has been showing since June 19.
The opening evening was simply delightful and despite the chill of a mid winter night, so many made it to the opening to help celebrate this new body of paintings. A heartfelt thank you to Jeannette Davison, the Arts Manager at Montsalvat, and Amanda Gibson, Manager of the 'Tree Project' for your incredible opening speeches.




photos thank you to Kerry Cross


Montsalvat Exterior on Opening Night
photo - Kerry Cross




Meet the Artist


I'll be down at Montsalvat on Saturday 24th August between 1-3pm for the final session in the 'Meet the Artist' series accompanying JAPONISM.

Love to see you there!



Photo - Kerry Cross


"The paintings are material objects that depict an image which arose from the essence and which, at their highest function, will offer the viewer a window to their own invisible essence within."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

JAPONISM


Montsalvat is delighted to present an exhibition of new work by the 2011 Nillumbik Prize People’s Choice Award winner Nerina Lascelles.
Long Gallery 19 June – 25 August

‘Japonism’ is the term used to describe the influence of the Arts of Japan on artists of the West. Ever since the very first contact in the sixteenth century, Japan has always possessed an irresistable fascination for the Western culture. The allure was only increased when Japanese ports reopened to trade with the West in 1853 and a tidal wave of foreign imports flooded European shores.
Japanese woodcut prints by masters of the ukiyo-e school which transformed Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art by demonstrating that simple, transitory, everyday subjects could be presented in appealingly decorative ways. 

Narrow-Leafed Peppermint
152cm x 122cm 
2013


Over the past decade, I have been inspired by the sacred arts of a number of Asian countries, in particular, the arts of Japan. Be it a scroll painting, a monk’s calligraphy koan or a beautifully woven kimono, these ancient objects capture an essence of timeless simplicity and beauty that is inherent in all things. Such a concept offers a welcome reprieve from the stress, noise and hustle/bustle of this modern day.

The paintings in this exhibition combine the influences of the ancient artwork from Japan, an understanding of Zen Buddhist philosophy and a contemplation of the natural beauty of the Australian bush. 

The monks and artists of ancient Japan painted beautiful, reverential depictions of their natural world: the seasons, the flora and the fauna. 
Japanese art consisted of off-centred arrangements with no perspective, light with no shadows, and vibrant colours with both plain and patterned surfaces. Other Japanese design elements included elongated pictorial formats, aerial perspective, spaces emptied of form, and a focus on singularly decorative motifs.

It is with the same sensitivity and with the influence of the Japanese aesthetic that I have chosen to depict a series of more local natural objects including branches of gum leaves, a flowering blossom or a flowing stream.


Manuka
76cm x 152cm
2013


In this body of work my intention is to offer a fresh insight on everyday elements by taking them out of a familiar setting and placing them into a new environment. Having lived in this indigenous landscape of Nillumbik for most of my life, it is easy to overlook the subtlety and fragility of delicate blooms which are surrounded by hardy bush. Within these canvasses, Australian flora has been offered a sense of space which it may not have had in its natural environment. Areas of empty space rest beside the magnification of leaves and flowers, allowing the viewer to experience both a focus on the shapes and also the space to contemplate the details of these forms. 

The voids of space within these works suggest a magical, ‘alive’ dimension beyond the material.

‘Form’ and the ‘formless’ combine to create a sense of harmonious balance.


Red Box Moon
156cm x 122cm
2013

"The paintings are material objects that depict an image which arose from the essence and which, at their highest function, will offer the viewer a window to their own invisible essence within." 


Cinnamon Wattle
122cm x 122cm
2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Journey Through Artistic Inspiration - 1995 to 2013

2011 – Current



From 2010 – 2012, Nerina lived and worked as an artist in residence at ‘Dunmoochin’, an artist’s community located in bushland surrounding Melbourne.

Her major show in 2011 was ‘Seizui’ at Montsalvat in Eltham. Each of the 14 works in this exhibition were been inspired after the reading and contemplation of a series of Haiku poems by the Japanese masters. For each poem chosen, the intention was to extract the ‘essence’ and bring the inherent imagery to life through a visual interpretation.





Clouds Veil the Moon 

Now and again 

Giving rest to its beholders - BASHO 




Japanese masters such as Basho, Issa, Shikki and Buson, with poems dating back to the 10th century, have written countless haiku poems portraying their experience of nature and life in Japan. And similarly, monks and artists of ancient Japan painted with a poetic reverence beautiful depictions of their natural world; the seasons, flora and fauna.







Long-Leaf Box Collage 2011

(Winner People's Choice - Nillumbik Prize)



“After having been living at Dunmoochin for over a year now, one simply cannot help being influenced by the beauty and magic of the Australian bush which encouraged my to translate some of these Japanese haiku using imagery which is more local to this region; including red box and long leaf box eucalyptus.”




2009 - 2010



In 2010 Nerina had three major solo exhibitions, "Sonzai - Existence", "Shinzui - Essence" and "MIST" in Singapore.



Sonzai - Existence was a solo exhibition at East and West Art Gallery, explored Eastern Philosophy where 'impermenance' describes existence, a vast space or stillness from which all forms arise and in time dissolve.






Karisome – Transience 

122cm x 122cm 2010 




Shinzui - Essence was an exhibition comprising of over 35 paintings and prints at Yering Station. 'Shinzui' (Japanese for ‘Essence’) speaks of a space or stillness which existed before or beyond the realm of matter. It contains an understanding of Zen Buddhism and suggests a magical, ‘alive’ dimension beyond the 3D form that we, as humans so heavily identify with. The word ‘Essence’ has been used to describe the aspect of ourselves which is connected to all life or our true nature.




"Over the past decade, my work has been inspired by the sacred arts of a number of Asian cultures. Be it a painting on a shrine wall, a monk’s calligraphy koan or a beautifully woven kimono, these ancient objects of beauty seem to ‘point to’ the essence of all life. Over time, dust, dirt and decay appear to conceal the treasure beneath - but the essence that inspired the creation originally can never be marred or destroyed with time.

Similarly, the understanding of our true essence and connection to ‘the whole’ is sensed deep within ourselves - beneath the layers of mind, emotions and form. This essence is also a beautiful treasure which is always present, just beneath the surface. The paintings are material objects that depict an image which arose from the essence and which, at their highest function, will offer the viewer a window to their own invisible essence within."






Honshitsu - True Nature, Mixed Media on Canvas, 122cm x 122cm, 2010




"MIST", a solo exhibition in the Australian High Commission in Singapore in 2010 was been inspired by a fifteen year study of Asian cultures which may offer both Eastern and Western Cultures a glimpse of a different and perhaps more balanced way of being. Singapore has been viewed as a meeting place and a 'melting pot' between East and West and for this reason the art works reflect the positive and unifying aspects of our world cultures.






Hashi - Bridge, 100cm x 75cm, 2009




Works of this period depicted a variety of landscapes in which the elements of both ‘form or matter’ and ‘space, void, or stillness’ coexist. The landscapes in this exhibition are not completely identified with physical form, but not entirely of spirit either. They represent a middle ground between form and the formless.




Figures and objects in the paintings are easily defined by the mind but perhaps not as easily comprehended, yet equally as important are the areas of space, which suggest a magical, mythical dimension beyond form. Some paintings suggest the spaciousness of the night sky while others describe distant, dreamlike landscapes which also represent the illusive nature of the invisible… the realm beyond space, time and form where true divinity dwells. Where all is one.





Doragon ken Fenikkusu - Dragon and Phoenix, 120 x 150cm, 2009





Nerina combines a blend of Buddhist images and traditional Japanese painting techniques with her own unique style - with the intention of imparting a sense of the ‘sacred’ to her audience. The occasional inclusion of a Buddha or Boddhisatva represents aspects of our true nature who’s presence may act as a trigger or ‘signpost’ into a deeper place of stillness.





2005 - 2008



During this period, Nerina has been influenced particularly by early Japanese art and Shinto and Buddhist teachings in Japan. Paintings during this time depicted revered creatures such as the crane, the koi and the peacock, plants such as the Cherry blossom as well as a number of Shinto deities.





Dharani - Esoteric Buddhist Prayer, 2005




Nerina's primary exhibition of 2006, the Nature of Things was influenced by the art and Zen poetry of Japan. Each of the 14 works was initiated from the reading and contemplation of a Haiku – an evocative Japanese verse which embodies a direct intuitive penetration into nature and life, which offers insight, joy and truth to readers. A simple verse encapsulates a multi-sensory experience of one’s environment. Haiku poetry uses language to allude to experience. In the case of Zen Haiku, language becomes a painting, a drawing, a story, a song. 





"Suddenly the sun rose

to the scent of plum blossom

along the mountain path" 2006



For each poem chosen, Nerina has endeavoured to extract the essence and bring the inherent imagery to life through a visual interpretation. Through the combination of both Haiku and painting, traditionally termed ‘Haiga’ the aim is to invite the viewer to perhaps experience a similar ‘timeless moment’ or to experience a ‘deeper presence of life’





"Mysterious loveliness

Buddhist statues covered

in fallen leaves" 2006



The title of Nerina's major exhibition of 2007 was, KENSHO, & literally translates as 'Seeing the Nature.' In the Zen perspective, the Kensho experience is a moment of complete emptiness, simplicity & formlessness during which one sees one’s ‘true nature’ or ‘Buddha nature’. Put in another way, one knows with one’s whole being, that one was not, is not, and will not ever be separate from the whole of the Universe. It is a recognition of the conscious eternal presence beyond the dimension of form and mind which is our true identity. Kensho is not a permanent state of enlightenment but rather a clear glimpse of the true nature of creation.







Kensho, 2007




Materials used include a collage of origami papers, Japanese kimono fabric, gold & silver leaf, paint and encaustic wax. Japanese influences in style range across several periods in history including 13th and 14th century paintings of Buddhist and Shinto deities, scroll paintings by Zen monks, and the natural landscapes painted on the 'byobu' - folding screens







Keshiki Byobu - Landscape painted Folding Screen 2007





2000 -2005 



After travelling through Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Tibet, Nerina’s work was greatly inspired by the art and culture of Buddhism and Hinduism. A series of exhibitions contained paintings of mandalas and meditative “thangkas”. Paintings from this period perhaps contained images of sacred deities and written Sanskrit or Tibetan mantras.





Peace Mandala 2001 




One such exhibition of note was “Sadhana” in 2001–which contained over 20 Buddhist inspired paintings. A Tibetan Buddhist Monk, Venerable Kunchok Rinzin created a 2 metre high butter sculpture which stood in the centre of the gallery space. Two Tibetan monks opened the exhibition with a Tibetan blessing and meditation, offering the public an amazing cultural experience. 





Mumukshutva - Desire for Liberation 2001 




Travel to Indonesia has also inspired Nerina’s paintings. The beauty and diversity of Asian and Indonesian textiles and fabric paintings have also greatly inspired her work. In some cases paintings contained prints from traditional wood blocks of even a collage of fabrics she had collected from the countries themselves. 






Avalokitesvara 2001 




Since 2002, Nerina has travelled to Bali 3 or 4 times each year and has as a result established a deep connection with the Balinese culture, mythology and people. In 2003 Nerina invited a Balinese artist, I Gusti Mirdiana, to Australia with the intention of each exhibiting 10 paintings of a traditional Balinese myth. The 20 finished works, 10 interpretations from Bali and 10 from the WestNerina Lascelles formed another exhibition of great cultural interest to the Melbourne community. Anthropologist and author Dr. Michele Stephen translated the stories through writing but also held a series of public lectures where the myths and artistic interpretations of both artists were explained.





Siwa and Uma 2003





1995 – 2000 


Much of the inspiration for her previous works has derived from world-wide travel and an interest in the spirituality and wisdom of a number of indigenous cultures. Influence for early exhibitions include studies of the art and myth of the Australian Aborigines, African and South American cultures and other peoples who are in close connection with the earth.





Bungil - A Dance 1995





Nerina feels that such cultures were able to access certain understandings and wisdom, which our society today could also benefit from. Paintings from this period contained symbolism, sacred geometry and the palette of colour from such cultures; with the objective of imparting a sense of the harmony, balance and co-operation that runs through everything. 





Ndoro - Zimbabwe 1998 



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nillumbik Open Studio's



It's that time of year again where over 35 artist's from the local area open their doors to extend a warm invitation to visit their studios. This season I held my Open Studio viewing at a new location in Panton Hill - on the rural outskirts of Melbourne.
In June of 2012, I completed my two year artist's residency at Dunmoochin. While I am still closely connected to Dunmoochin and its community, I am so grateful to be currently painting in 'Frank Werther's' studio.... while I'm in the process of building a new studio.
Frank Werther was a prolific artist who was one of the first artists who built and settled at Dunmoochin alongside Clifton Pugh. According to his website "He was an extraordinary man, creative, inspiring and individual in an unapologetic but humble way". 
I never did have the pleasure of meeting Frank before he passed away in 2010, but from all accounts though, he was such a beautiful man. This incredible space hadn't been touched since the day he went into a nursing home a few year ago. Like moving into the work spaces of Clifton Pugh and other Dunmoochin artist's - one can hear the stories & feel the inspiration and creation that went before.




November's Open Studio program was quite special. Until the completion of my new studio, my lovely parents kindly offered that I exhibit my work in their beautiful home in Panton Hill. On display was my most recent paintings, prints, cards and books, but this beautiful home is a work of art in itself.
The house has been featured in the 'Owner Builder' and 'Renew' magazines, been screened on 'Better Homes and Gardens' and won a Sustainability Award for its green design. (Incredible work dad!)
Jeannette Davison has also featured the house on her blog ISIIAD, so if you're interested in seeing more, please visit the article "Lascelles" in ISIIAD.


Photo - Jeannette Davison

photo - Jeannette Davison

page from the Open Studio's booklet




Visitor 25th November 2012


Buddha is
Cherry Blossoms
In the Moonlight
-Basho

Both of the weekends were incredibly busy with up to 100 people visiting daily. In fact, tallying up all around... this was the most successful Open Studio to date! :)