Marie Hanlon

Dublin, Ireland

A sculptor friend of mine claims that any two stones, regardless of their irregularity, can be balanced one on top of the other—it’s a matter of finding the exact point of balance.

As a painter I am engaged in a similar pursuit. Each piece seeks this fine balancing of elements, the achievement of which transforms the work from a mere material object into something capable of producing a profound experience. The experience may be a spiritual one or it may be purely aesthetic. Classical art from every era has demonstrated that elements such as structure and balance can produce deeply satisfying experiences. My painting practice is located along this classical line, and each individual work is an attempt to express an inherent universal harmony.

The relation of parts both to each other and to the outer shape of the piece is a central preoccupation, as are the fine gradations and shifts of color relationships. While these paintings have strong geometric affinities, it would be true to say that beauty rather than mathematics is the active principle. Forms are drawn and placed intuitively, they are felt and judged to be right according to some inner guide rather than measured and precisely calculated. There is a spontaneity as the hand and eye engage and interact with the piece being made. However, as the paintings are generally strict and austere, any evidence of handmade irregularities may seem paradoxical. But it is this combination of opposites–structure and freedom–which I seek. Traces of the hand keep the human dimension in the work. Consequently the detatchment between artist and object characteristic of high Minimalism is not an issue here. More recent pieces have moved even further in this direction, with the strict sequences and rows of earlier work giving way to more random arrangements. Structure and placing are still essential, but now with greater freedom, perhaps even playfulness.

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