Illuminations and Deep Art. On Richard Sudden.

I adhere to the view that Art can be revelatory, transformative, and healing.  That art can possess such powers points to the way of a different kind of wisdom and practice in all manners Aesthetic.  For me, the mystery of say something like the experience of beauty is that, unlike a strict Platonic eidos, beauty is in itself is a shifting admixture of joy, serenity, awe, wonder, majesty. Beauty is of multiple design. The degree of power in an artwork  is in how the elements above are arranged according to varying degrees of intensity and inflection.

Liquid Modernity is a term used to denote art in flux. Our time. Signifiers, symbols, icons, are seen to be dislodged from their source horizon of meaning into a vacuous stream of images circulating the multiple media platforms of our age as mere surface fascination in the service of late capital interests. We are impoverished by this lack of substance and depth many would argue.

Calls are made for Artists to engage in novel productions of collective and subjective formations as a counter intelligence to market interests and the vacuity of current aesthetic production.  If there is a crisis in defining who we are or what we are about in part it is because we live in a post metaphysical age.  Each artist is an island unto themselves.  The impact of their work is limited to a few supporters who understand the private semiotic of their ouvre. We do not have a cosmological constant any more as in previous epochs.

What to do then if you are a contemporary artist sifting through hyper swarms of information, images, and divergent views on art, life, and death?  How does one become sane when Capitalism and Schizophrenia in a Deleuzian sense produce not affirmative liberation but more subjugated and emptied bodies?

One way through, I found,  is in the current exhibit of Richard Sudden titled "Illuminations" on display at the Madison Morgan Cultural Center.

The exhibit is divided into three separate Gallery rooms.  Respectively,  Gallery one: Timeline.  Gallery Two: Particle and Wave. Gallery 3: On the Nature of Things.

Unlike Physics, Art can show a particle and wave occurring simultaneously.  Using perforated cardboard and paint, the works in Gallery Two, where I started the viewing, manage to locate not only physical properties of matter but their ensuing metaphorical value. That matter, light, and energy differentiate into individuated particulars is a wondrous event, a marvel that Sudden treats with a quiet elegance that glimmers through out the space.  We are invited to experiment with grand themes such as speed and stillness, the unique and universal, the palpable and unseen, as well as the complexities of emergence as a property of nature. Hetero optics.  One can not help but appreciate how the very materials used to situate these observations are in themselves articulations of light and matter which are here a Univocity, nevertheless.

Whether you are gazing at Red Oculus 3, White Orb 2, Penelope and Telemachus,  or any of the other 11 "paintings" one can not help but be provoked into deeper intimations about processes which subsist, insist and persist as sources of our own embodied cognitions.

Before I go too far into my study of the exhibit I want to point out that much of the voltage in "Illuminations" is the  refined sensibility by which Mr. Sudden maps out his endeavor.  There is a luminous, serene, refined, and meditative quality that evokes higher contemplative registers, say of Taoist Masters, yet executed through a very modern technical sophistication.

Gallery One named "Timeline" is a study on a small scale of larger Cosmological processes.  As you enter  an already darkened room where a deceleration of light appears to occur, on a table, there  is a fossil  artifact with jagged edges at both ends dimly lit by an small overhead lamp. I took this private moment to be an observation not only about my own finitude/continuation but also about the nature of Time-Light-Matter as well:  As you move in further into the room there is an amazing installation piece revealing, as if from some Mystery School Initiation inside a hallowed cave, the Order of the Cosmos. Continuity. Discontinuity. Light. Shadow. Polarities. Intensity.  Distance. Immediacy. Gravity. Lightness.  Openness.  Closure.  Patterns.  And, unlike the rigid mathematical fixity of fractal patterns navigating the Popular Imaginarium, the regularity of what nature constructs has a more organic temperament through Mr. Sudden's lenses.  A sculptural piece on the corner of the gallery called Alabaster Brain suggests an animating intelligence to the Meso Cosmos we are embedded in.  Key to the "effect" of Gallery One's ecology is a black and white video stream embedded on the wall above the fossil artifact.  The video shows silhoutted tree branches waving slowly as clouds pass above us.  The architecture of the World has permutation and fluidity.

We move onto"On the Nature of Things"  at Gallery 3.  There are several large sized canvasses hanging from the ceiling as if they were Potent Scrolls/Palimpsests for a people yet to arrive or a people that came and went and, or, more likely, myself,  a dweller of the Deep Art Ecology the entire exhibit explores.

 Here are some titles from Gallery 3:  Cosmos, Geometry of the Egg, Graviton, Bees, The Leaf, Seed, Mudra, and there are two sculptural pieces completing this habitat: Meditation and Hive.

For now,  I will mention the piece called Mudra since it allowed me to more keenly see how the materiality of the canvass paradoxically disappears making transparent developmental forces not readily seen that interweave with human agency ( Sun, plants, cells, gravity, language,  concepts themselves, electricity, death and on).  A Mudra is a Sacred Gesture.  Like Art can be.

If thought is a form of light itself, as Sudden  implicitly demonstrates in his work, and art is material for its many adumbrations, then Liquid Modernities' unhinged proliferation of fascinating optics without a pause  can be reflected through Bio cosmic sensibilities, where without converting into existential mystics (and yet that too is allowed), art morphs into affirmative declarations of interdependence and emergence. 

Sudden's "Illumination"  is a steady study in Bio-cosmology shown to us with the masterful craftsmanship, patience and the "simplicity" of a Zen Culture Creative: Graceful. Curious. Trusting. Knowledgeable. Warm. He shows us a living Universe from which we emerge, respond, and co design with. The materials he works with evoke intimate atmospherics as well as super subtle luminosities.

The very first and last piece you see in this exhibit is called Neurons.  This complex system of self arising cells which are conduits for our experience and seen under steely microscopes mirror the Canvass piece called Cosmos. A cosmos we also explore but through massive telescopes.  Densities of Light and Shadow.
To see with "both eyes" is to see both the local and the global.  A rare attainment in this age of the Anthropocene.

Thank you, Richard.

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