As this pandemic unfolds, the melting continues…
I made it through almost all of the 36 panels that constituted blessure, 1994.
A very few I gifted, a very few others I have kept…for now.
The accumulated wax resides in a glass vessel, a kind of core sample of
the material, labour and intentions brought to bear 27 years ago.
Painted between Spring 1993 and fall 1994, these panels were among my
first stable encaustic paintings. Having experimented extensively, through
trial and error in 1991-92 I established a method that ensured good adhesion of
layers of wax to canvas. Essentially, by eliminating acrylic gesso I was able
to fuse layers of wax into a solid, yet flexible surface. Melting them now, I
am remembering this process of discovery. I am also remembering how much time
it took to construct these deceptively simple, seemingly monochromatic panels.
The laying on of marks, layering “skins” of wax, building it up to a
flesh-like surface, burying the cell-like corpuscular fields of reds and browns
with pale yellow and pink. A broken portrait then…a condensed memory today…
My younger brother, Bart, was entering into the last days of his life,
and I spent time with him, and his wife and daughter, in clinics and hospitals
and at home, as he grappled with the multitude of conditions that all came from
diabetes. He had doctors who focussed on his pancreas and blood sugar levels.
Another team oversaw the dialysis he needed as his kidneys failed. Another team
for his failing eyesight. All fragmented conversations, crossed wires,
diagnoses and plans that sometimes aligned and often collided.
The wax stood for the vulnerability, the fragility,
and also the resilience. The grid, an abstract attempt to put the chaos into
some kind of order.
Everything is always in transformation including grief, including resilience.