Ralph Stanton at Disorder, September – October 2021
“There’s a Crack in Everything (L. Cohen)”
Good question. What is happening in the world now? Unprecedented, unstoppable global events: a dreadful, pandemic; drastic environmental and climate shocks; a major shift in our freedoms and in global power. And personal tragedies unfolding worldwide at enormous scale.
What are we to make of it all? I am intrigued by the feeling behind Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”: “Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering; There’s a crack , a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in”.
Is there something to be learnt here – at a level beyond the everyday? In any case, that’s what this, my imperfect offering, is about: a non-didactic attempt to imply the possibility of hope (or light) behind the enormity of what appears before us, collectively or individually.
Abstract art has been around for over a century. It appeals – like music – to our non-rational mind. My work evokes mood through colour, texture and overall effect. I rely on intuition, seeking feelings of space and beauty which arrive through process: layering, glazing, rubbing back, overpainting.
The work tends to suggest landscape, seascape or skyscape rather than tangible imagery, reflecting its expressive nature, “emotional residue” or tonal atmosphere. Actually it is an “inner landscape” that is reflected. And sometimes an “inner light.”
In 2014 I was invited to join in an installation / exhibition at PSAS Fremantle with Geoff Wake and “Zweitgeist” (Tom Muller and Horst Kornberger) The show, entitled “Dark Light” , comprised site-specific works using neon, projected images and LEDs in the darkened gallery.
My contribution – “Inner Light” – entailed a large, matte black-painted cube, 2.5m3, floating as if weightless upon a soft, gently shifting indirect LED light, which was slowly cycling through the spectrum. This created a seemingly impossible enigma, invoking “the insubstantiality of matter” and a quiet, contemplative mood which expanded into the surrounding space.
I was invited to display in the offices of CCN Architects in Perth WA.
In 2007 Geoff Wake, Helen Forbes, and I made a submission to the Rockingham Hospital in WA for a large public mural. We were shortlisted but unsuccessful. The image above shows, on the right, our proposal. On the left is a related work by Jules Sher.
“Ralph Stanton’s canvases also celebrate paint. He lays down multiple layers of pigment to create rich textures that seem to explore the physicality of the medium. His works call to the viewer from a distance while close inspection rewards us with glimpses of some underlying activity. The texture and hints of other colours suggest something else lay just beneath the surface, the memory of another idea perhaps. The startling red of Magenta Sunset demands attention while the churning, almost diagonal sense of movement of the surface mesmerizes. The overall power is checked by one small vertical and one horizontal slash of ‘multi-coloured’ white. These marks provide handles we can cling to as we continue to search deep into the painting and discover remnants of other ideas. But are they the artist’s or our own?
“Stanton constructs with the paint; the viscosity of the medium is worked as are colour combinations. It is the process of painting, the layering of colour and knowing when to stop, that seems to appeal to the artist. These exhibits invite tactile inspection but when we move closer we don’t touch, instead we seem to fall into infinity.”Published in “Art Seen In Western Australia” by Judith McGrath – May 2006
“At the Gadfly Gallery, Nedlands is Floating World, an exhibition of Ralph Stanton’s brightly-coloured, breezy abstract paintings, many of which are evidence of his proficient paint handling.
These I can understand. They’re the sort of paintings that (the late) broodingly heroic, American painter Mark Rothko might have done if he had lightened up, taken holidays on the Gold coast and spent his evenings drinking strawberry daiquiri with Ken Done, rather than worrying about “the void” and all that heavy stuff.
Floating World drifts on until August 22.”Robert Cook in The West Australian
Arts today________________________Wednesday 11 August 1999