The title of this exhibition is an attempt to set the stage for the intention from which the paintings emerge. It is how I see the activity of painting, as an altered state of perception. T S Elliot described it as “each venture is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate”; similarly Seamus Heaney articulates beautifully the process, “the crucial action is pre-verbal, to be able to allow the first alertness or come-hither, sensed in a blurred or incomplete way, to dilate and approach as a thought or as a phrase”.
Phillip Guston also spoke about attempts at the way in; remarking on how when one begins the act of painting, the studio is crowded with all our concerns which we bring with us. As we work they begin to leave one by one, until eventually we are left alone. Then, if we are really lucky, we leave also. There is a ring of rightness to this understanding that I know to be true from personal experience.
I remember too my friend US sculptor Bill Freeland saying to me as we talked on high stools in Brian and Síle Polke’s beautiful bar in Ballycastle, Mayo: “I always tell my students when I first meet them that I’m not interested in what you know, I’m interested in what you don’t know”. I think of Bill often and thank him for a crucial insight which I try to live up to.