28 July - 14 August 2010

James Murnane


Simply, It’s takes time and it’s worth it is about sharing the beauty that is present in the process of making a painted artwork, as well as in the artwork itself.

Painting, the central piece of this presentation of artworks, is a canvas painting that consists of two square grids of diamond shapes, similar to those in decorative stained glass windows, only turned on their side.  One grid is made up of red diamonds, the other made up blue ones.  Each diamond is 1cm high and 1.5cm in width, with a total of around 13,500 of them.  Each diamond is individually painted with oil paint.

The process of painting took 14 months, yet the painting was conceived some three years ago.  It has been a long time coming.  The canvas was primed three and half years ago, the grids plotted three years ago, the grids drawn up 18 months ago.  The painting of the canvas was begun 14 months ago and only just recently finished, having taken a few hundred hours to complete.  Sometimes it was worked on a few days a week, sometimes only for a couple of hours per week, and sometimes not at all.  Yet slowly and gradually the coloured diamonds replaced the white diamonds, until not a single white one was left, only an array of blue and red tones against a crisp white border.

The vast amount of time that was spent on creating this one work is a beautiful thing in itself, beautiful in that a person would labour so long to share the beauty of the finished work.  Each of these thousands of diamonds have been hand painted, individually focused upon.  This is in opposition to an image being gridded up on design program, a gradient put through it, and emailed off to a printer in an hour or even a few minutes. Again, this painting took a long time.

Furthermore, as a human person laboured at the work and not a machine, there is a wonder-filled glimmer of beauty which hopefully shines out due to the heart that has been put into the process of making the work.  Admittedly, the investment of heart in someone’s undertakings is not always so outwardly evident, for actions can be performed perfectly on a practical level, yet done begrudgingly and resentfully at heart.  It almost takes an act of faith to see and feel the heart invested in an artwork, or in fact any undertaking by anybody.  Put simply, even the smallest thing done with love is precious and worthwhile, and thus intrinsically beautiful.1

This artwork that has been laboured upon shares nothing extraordinary or groundbreaking, it only seeks to share simple beauty.  In contemporary thought beauty has often been seen as base, low, common, and unsophisticated.  Yet maybe it is this base nature that is beauty’s greatest virtue.  Why?  It speaks to all and it speaks truly.  It speaks to our fundamental human experience, something we all get and are geared to get.  In an environment where subjectivity and open-endedness are so highly valued, it is relieving to touch some solid ground.

And in regards to the forms and colours within the work, there is a clear link with stained glass windows, along with geometric abstract painting.  These paintings and drawings, in the vein of stained glass, have as their aim to be simple, beautiful and illuminating and thus transcendent.  And the abstract forms and colours, when encountered by the senses and processed in the mind, can move the heart by their beauty. This beauty then is a signpost to the source of beauty.

When writing on the work of abstract artist Diena Georgetti, Rob McKenzie recently stated that a “pivotal component of abstract art is the notion of godlessness.”2   He shared that much of abstract art in the modern era and its base in subjectivity was a type of catharsis, a universal remedy to ease the spirit after the belief set in that God was dead.3Yet whilst the paintings in this exhibition may be subjectively received, and read in different ways, the beauty within them point to objectivity.  They point to the reality of beauty, and the reality of the source of all beauty, all good, and all truth.

In their simple beauty these created works point to God, and through the means of this created beauty, the uncreated One speaks lovingly to the observer, the receiver of the gift.  “For you, this beauty,” and that this beauty which can make one’s heart dance, may lead one in turn to God, the giver of the gift.  And that is a truly wonderful thing to recognise, for if we are honest, we know that the greatest joy in a gift is not the gift itself, but the love shared by the giver.  God too has given us some universal remedies, it is up to us to recognise and be willing to receive them.

James Murnane, 2010