(EVERY) NOW AND THEN / AGAIN
25 May – 11 June 2016
Opening Night | Thursday 26 May, 6–8pm
The Cosmic Centre
(Every) Now and Then/ Again is a new installation of fabric designs, GIFS and paintings developed by working with online communities and technologies.
PAINTING BEYOND MATTER
The world presents itself as a highly unpredictable and profoundly interconnected network. Paradoxically, increasingly, access to the Internet makes it easier to recognise the complex material histories of nearly everything in this world. The online spaces dedicated to sharing these histories create an economy of attention, an overwhelming amount of information, producers and consumers that compete to impact our cognitive capacities. Amongst this intense circulation, the boundaries of artworks and museums have further dissolved as distinctions between art and other content, and purely physical and virtual things no longer seem to make much sense. And yet, recent years have seen a resurgence of contemporary abstract painting, a renewed focus on real objects, materials and colours, which some suggest is a reaction against this screen based networked view of the world. While The Cosmic Centre is part of this movement, they explore a different space by playing with abstract forms across virtual and physical realms.
The Cosmic Centre, led by Danielle Clej and Michelle Eskola, considers how hybrid, collaborative and psychic connections can challenge the mutability of authorship and ownership in this current condition. The Centre creates collaborative artworks by drawing on a range of techniques from the history of abstract painting to explore the experience of contemporary new-age spiritualism. By mimicking making processes – from canvas preparation to the mixing of pigments and the layering of elements – of artists including Helen Frankenthaler, The Artist’s Co-op, the Transcendental Painting Group and De Fem, Clej and Eskola channel communication with artists from the past, present and future. Under this direction, the works explore abstraction, not as the antithesis of the familiar or the real, but to create imaginative fictions that sit between an abstract and conceptual realm of codified signs.
On the surface, spiritual abstract and conceptual realms of art can seem very different. The first seems connected to a more organic, mystical process of divination, while the later connotes a kind of intellectual deliberation. But as The Cosmic Centre reveals, these modes of art intersect. In conceptual art, the presented idea and process can be more important than the end product, while the process of divination can be more important than the discrete art object, too. The Centre converges these two superficially separate genres navigating a place in which a conceptual approach towards mysticism intersects with formalism, aesthetics and contemporary art issues. However, Clej and Eskola are not too hung up on these terms or movements; they focus more on an exploration of new-age consciousness and fringe spiritual movements that have intersected with the arts.
Whereas for many painters, the distribution of their works online is secondary to their physical exhibition, The Centre creates and exhibits works in both virtual and physical spaces. Pushing brush marks, images and text across digital image software, NewHive webpages and canvas, Clej and Eskola focus on how these spaces offer various opportunities for shared agency. For example, Constellation Cards (2015–ongoing) is a series of digital images and GIFs of collaborative paintings on postcards. The postcards are created and sold by others who have tagged them as ‘cosmic’ in an online new-age marketplace. The Centre buys copies of these cards and the rights to rework them and then recirculates the paintings online to be viewed and remixed.
The Centre explores painting as a shared space of thought and action that engages in meditations between the individual and other collective virtual and psychic realms. These compositions can bring the viewer to something like a transcendent state, operating as a go-between, as an access point to something beyond the visual. As individual works and in series, the artworks develop complex pictorial structures, internal rationales that generate “inside energy” as Alex Katz says, and yet through collaboration and psychic connection, they also draw on cultural conditions outside of themselves. However, these connections are not of an appropriationist mind-set, nor the recapitulation of a past moment in abstract or spiritual art, but a result of the ever- broadening network of influences, networks and technologies that form our contemporary experience.
- LIAM RODERICK
The Cosmic Centre is a holistic space dedicated to the development of transcendental dialogue. The Centre channels artists, angels and masters from the past, present and future to create paintings that explore cosmic and mystic ideologies and collective modes of authorship and technologies.