"Taobh le mo Bhróidneireacht Churtha / Beside My Buried Embroidery" Ian Gordon 2009Beside My Buried Embroidery
Well known Donegal artist, Ian Gordon, has a substantial exhibition record. He attended the Wimbledon School of Art in the early seventies when the contemporary cultural view held painting as irrelevant, even antiquated. College wished to impart an academic education at a time when the rising generation was turning onto jazz, rock etc and creatively had more interest in developing definitions of ‘conceptual’ art, performance art etc. This juxtaposing experience influenced his departure from art college where he was told he was “an anarchic self educator“. Thirty years hence, I believe this misrepresents Ian and his work. The ‘anarchic’ labelling, a misnomer, may have contributed to Ian’s deferment in embracing painting as his passion.
Good artists are by definition anarchic; this merely means a rejection of the formulaic or imposing rule. The true artist, as original seer, is obliged to invent their own mythology and methodology. Without this we would have no Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Conceptualism nor any other ‘ism’.
The artist will use, reject, re-engage and re-arrange primary elements that emerged in the initial or formative stages of their creative development. This develops as their ‘practice’. The roots and shape of Ian’s creative rhythm and ritual are clearly traceable and represent a serious commitment and integrity.
Having rejected classical fine art education, Ian learned the craft of embroidery. At one time perhaps formal painting seemed useless, decadent or indeed even intimidating to Ian, and craft proved valid and worthy. This element would become an essential factor in his future practice. The embroideries now fulfil many purposes. They are rhythmic makings, meditatively formed, stirring the intuitive from its slumber. As craft they represent skill, adeptness and labour - demonstrating that quality results do not come easy. In their own right the embroideries are also colour mappings, a form of colour drawing which then translates into ‘Palette Dialogue’ works. Ultimately, the embroideries are buried in a landscape he has selected to paint, as an offering so to speak, as a sacrifice. Symbolising effort and skill the deposits recognise the artist’s investment and mark a point along the creative journey. This exhibition will include an installation marking this specific junction.
Ian Gordon is first and foremost a colourist. His concerns are to do with how one colour sits next to another, how a palette works, what is its vibration etc. As Cezanne noted “There is a logic of colours, and it is with this alone, and not with the logic of the brain, that the painter should conform”. This is a subjective matter, specific to and recognisable of any strong artist, such as say Rothko, Van Gogh, Klee etc. An Ian Gordon painting is recognisable also; his primary focus is the dialogue of the ‘colour language’.
Ian is a passionate and accomplished landscape painter and this exhibition sets out clearly the interrelationship between these two concerns; colour and the artist’s relationship with the land. His is both a physical and ethereal response aptly reflecting Kandinsky’s idea that “Colour provokes a psychic vibration. Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the body”. Always, always Ian’s landscapes are vibrant and emboldened – because they are responses to these vibrations, expressions of the feeling.
Another recurring signature of Ian’s work is the element of risk. He risks the enforced loss of his buried aesthetic deposits and sets up a further risk when it comes to painting. Placing himself in the landscape – en plein air, exposed and vulnerable, Beside his Buried Embroidery, Ian up’s the tension and faces the challenge. This tension evokes speed, movement, no thinking, no ego. Successfully holding his nerve, he anxiously yet spontaneously delivers a radiant, energetic production. His canvases are an unbounded “visual homage” – to the landscape. The delivery completes this circular creative ritual, a steady endeavour ………………which will begin again and again. Ian is far from anarchic, art is his life and being an honourable artist he has invented and is committed to his own original path.
Úna Campbell, An Gailearaí An Fál Carrach, February 2009.