Stephen St. John
I start with a few shapes. The process of painting with rollers and brushes makes textures and patterns inside the shapes. Those accidental marks lead to other shapes and other colors. One change leads to another until there are many layers, and scraping through them makes new textures, shapes and patterns. The accidental and deliberate marks can complicate or simplify. The final painting is the outcome of all the individual choices made along the way. The process looks somewhat chaotic, but when it’s finished when it has the feeling that the many parts make a whole.
These four images are meant to be displayed in a single frame with the images in numerical order from left to right beginning with Creation. Together, they visually express the duality of creation and disintegration of the universe. We create with our minds and hands. We think in lines and space. It takes ceaseless rigor and discipline to imagine nothing, as in meditation. In our mundane moments, though, we fill space with material objects, a kind of maximization of desire. Paradoxically, pure spirit (as well as pure science) seeks to simplify the universe and thus break free of the material complexity on which all life and thought depend.
I photographed the moss (Creation) on a steep slope at the edge of a shimmering lake near my hometown in central Maine. Materiality is one of the mid-nineteenth-century iron buildings in New York City’s Chinatown. Spirituality was taken at the Hase Kannon Temple (Buddhist) in Kamakura, Japan. Entropy is a box of assorted clock parts at an auction of sundry tools and objects photographed at a farmhouse in Athens, Maine. From the formation of stars to the winding down of time we imagine the universe. Thus creation arises from chaos and in turn chaos reclaims creation. They are inextricably bound to each other.
Image at top: Stephen St. John, Combination Meets Merger 3, acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 30 x 40 in.