Judith Currelly | Artist statement

Installation view of "Waterways"

Painting is my way of trying to comprehend and come to grips with the nature and meaning of existence. By creating new spaces I can clarify and express my perception of the values and possibilities of life as a whole.

Amanda k. Coumaraswamy remarked in Primitive Mentality, “To have lost the art of thinking in images is precisely to have lost the proper linguistic of metaphysics and to have descended to the verbal logic of philosophy.” For me, verbal logic leaves unanswered so many questions, and “thinking in images” through my painting is essential.

In the 70s in Toronto I dealt with this in an abstract way using simple shapes and colour and light, density and translucence. The paintings explored relationships and balance through the interplay of elements. I’ve always found it exciting to create dome sort of harmony from often opposing forces.

The need to know and understand the force of the natural environment lead me from Toronto to the north-west where I spent long periods of time in complete isolation. It was both a powerful and a humbling experience which had a profound effect on me and the work I was doing at the time. It took several years before I was able to access and assimilate this experience and relate it to my painting.

In my most recent paintings, which are more representational, I have tried to convey some of the strength and power that that I find in nature. It is spiritual, magic and fluid as well as being formidable and solid. It is not hostile. It is simply there-strong and complete, and when we leave it alone, it works. My paintings are an attempt to penetrate to this hidden spirit of nature and to understand its relationship to my own inner reality. It is this essence and its influence on our everyday lives of love and hate and war and peace that fascinates me.

Technically, I am working on large paintings on plywood. I am using various mediums, mainly oil-based. In some of the paintings I have laminated and built up the plywood in layers to change the physical dimensions. By staining the surfaces in some area I’ve been able to make use of the inherent, constantly changing, natural characteristics of the wood. In other areas I want to create the illusion of strength and form from within by building up the surface of the paint and etching and routering this surface. Through this process, the paintings that are most successful develop a life of their own and continuity and balance emerges.

My interests in psychology, shamanism and mythology plus living in the north, learning to fly and becoming a mother have all influenced my work.

Judith Currelly