Polyphony 2014

OlsenIrwin Gallery 30 July - 17 August 2014



Polyphony:from Greek poluphōnia, from polu- ‘many’ + phōnē ‘sound’.

                       def: The style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonising with each other. ("Polyphony" The Oxford English Dictionary)

What is the omnipresence of sound? Is it visible?

Is it constant or sporadic?  Is there an underlying rhythm?

Sound is essentially abstract, endless and defies visual description.

The expression of sound through painting is by no means a new idea - Kandinsky’s improvisation paintings of the early 20th century allowed painting to enter into a world of sound, rhythm and timbre, liberating painting from the visual world.

Like sound, a painting has rhythm - the regular alternation between silent gaps and beats. The spaces - the voids - are anything but empty.

In these new paintings, sound dissolves, and dissipates into an underlying field. Where does this sound go? And what form does it take? The colours and marks in these paintings are a playful imagining of how sounds relate - how they cross over, how they resonate and then how they disappear or transmute into another state.  

Colours blur out of focus, as if the light hasn’t yet reached us, lines feel as though they are moving away and gestures punctuate to  bring together a polyphonic composition in paint. The varied forms of tone and mark reveal distant sounds that have always been and present,  and will always remain.

To depict is to impose boundaries, and a sense of the infinite is boundless, un-depictable. The abstract becomes the language with which to respond to this boundlessness, to respond to sound.

Photography by Silversalt