Painting the light: artist Peter Rowntree

pr2.jpgOk, here’s something about an artist whose work I love.

Can one see light, or would it be more correct to say that light makes things visible? The term “visible light” refers to the portion of electromagnetic radiation that the human eye can detect, while other portions, like infrared for example, have no effect on the eye but are perceived as warmth. Maybe I’m wrong, but I understand this to mean that our eyes are sensitive to a certain range of electromagnetic waves, and we perceive colors etc. within this range that reflect off of things. We see the things but not the light itself which is invisible (I’ll gladly stand corrected if my opinion turns out to be totally off the wall).

A great number of the objects that surround me absorb the light; in other words, the light can’t pass through. The physical world actually blocks the light. Rowntree’s paintings are variations of this theme, about the light being more or less obscured by the densely tangled stratum of physical reality.

There is a song by Leonard Cohen, pr1.jpg Anthem, from his album The Future:

“There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

Yes, the physical “stuff” obscures and captures the light, but nevertheless, the light which I take to be a symbol for consciousness, for awareness, always finds a way in. Some of Peter Rowntree’s work clearly shows this opening, this door; in other paintings, the light appears as if a prisoner behind bars.

A mandala can be used as a meditative tool, to help the mind stay focused and attentive. Rowntree’s paintings all have this quality of a mandala. pr3.jpg Symbols such as triangle and square as well as the chosen colors combine to produce a certain energetic quality or vibration that’s almost tangible. Color composition is both subtle and powerful. While the artist states that what he does is “… fumbling, clumsy and inarticulate”, his brush stroke reveals many decades of practice.

More of Peter Rowntree’s work can be seen here. Oh, and he’s not dead yet, so his  paintings still go for less than 1/2 million dollars…


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