tangle: in praise of chaos and light

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When the child was a child...

It had a precise picture of paradise

And now can only vaguely conceive of it at best

It couldn’t imagine nothingness

And today shudders in the face of it (1)

i wanted these landscapes to be intimate, more

abstract, replete, substantive, tactile, suffused with

surface texture, pattern, mark-making, colour and

form; evocative, conjuring memories of being there. i

did not wish to privilege any one leaf or twig, or create

a hierarchy of subject.

i didn’t want to leave anything out, but i couldn’t help


There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is

translated through you into action, and there is only

one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if

you block it, it will never exist through any other

medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is

not your business to determine how good it is, not

how it compares with other expression. It is your

business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep

the channel open. You do not even have to believe in

yourself or your work. You have to keep open and

aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep

the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no

satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a

queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that

keeps us marching... (2)

although all the paintings depict actual places, i hoped

by narrowing my focus to create something both

more comprehensive on the one hand and less

specific on the other. that as metaphor the miracle of

the burning bush (the bush burned with fire, and the

bush was not consumed) might suggest the possibility

of redemption from our heavy ecological footprint.

without straying too far from home in the midst of

our urban sprawl, i find small tangles almost

everywhere, overlooked, unannounced, in harmony,

where one branch gives way to a different tree,

foliage intermingles, where nothing in particular

becomes everything in a smile of light.

And so each venture

Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate

With shabby equipment always deteriorating

In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, (3)

penny eisenberg 2009

(1) Peter Handke

(2) Martha Graham

(3) T.S. Eliot