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DISCUSSING THE NEXT ‘THE PILL’ WITH ART CRITIC & ARTIST MATTHEW COLLINGS AND ARTIST ANGELA LYN

I consider Swiss artist Angela Lyn as a very good friend of mine. Our paths crossed sometime a year and a half ago through my blog and she has accompanied me all the way through my incipient recovery from an addiction to drugs and a rather unexpected chronic depression and I would say that the starting point of our, how to put it, ‘common belief in art’ had its first crystallised moment in what became one of the most read articles since I started writing my blog. I am referring to the Conversations of a Life Time that you can read here and here

From the moment I realised I was an addict, I decided to write a daily (sometimes, hourly) post in my blog which allowed me to reach out both to ask for help but also to establish a dialogue with a world that seemed to me far too distant. If I have to summarise, however, what my blog is about I would say that it conceives life as a visual riddle that art can help untie through allowing us to connect with other human beings not only through space but also through time. As a matter of fact, portraiture and photography are two ways, as Leo Alberti used to say about the former, to make the deaD come back to life. BY Praying to an image of Christ we can also connect with ourselves and that which lies beyond.

To say it in modern terms, the image allows us to establish a relationship between expression and our own anxieties by helping us to approach our existence as creatures who care about the future, hope for good outcomes and worry about bad ones. This is, roughly, the existentialist view. Sartre thought that we feel anxiety so we appreciate the responsibility we bear whenever we act -when we realise that, ultimately, there is nothing out there, including the ethical system we are born into, that backs up our choices and nothing that guarantees that they will be the right ones. Dogs and cats, presumably, do not know this feeling. Hence, it could be said that human anxiety and depression are the price tag on human freedom. In a way this was what my conversations with Angela Lyn were all about. It was at this point where art, artist and viewer (critic, in this case) become relevant as vehicles for something that the solipsism of post-modern life seems to threaten. Of course, I am referring to the need to be touched and addressed by other human beings in the here and now.

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Looking at the progression of Angela Lyn’s practice from an Anselm-Kiefer-ish neo-expressionism to his syncretic (oriental and not that oriental) approach to landscape (and still life?) as if portraying nature and its objects, I see the immanence of what we could call ‘the soul’ not only into the iconography (what is painted) but also in the economy of the brushwork. I used the word ‘portraying’ not as representing something but as the action of ‘portraiture’ in which Lyn’s landscapes become mirrors of the soul and present the viewer with ethical choices. That is why, I think that those ‘mirrors’ are not only reflective but projective and it is in that calm optimism that the viewer and the artist engage in what I called ‘a conversation of a life time’.

The restrained brushwork, the pale colours, the bracketed composition and the self-effacement of the artist reveals a sense of self-control that does not draws attention to itself as an act of humility. Instead it creates space for the viewer to fully participate in the connective experience that art entails. Since lack of connection seems to be the feature of all neuroses, I wonder what the contemporary art world has to say about this. There is a celebration of the unawareness of the psychic conflict that tear humanity apart and this is achieved by turning art into visual jokes or by transforming the visual image into monuments to monumentality which usually (and unsurprisingly) comes across as ironic. This is a big mistake and it is there where Angela Lyn caring restraint emerges triumphant by allowing the viewer experience to become part of the artistic drive. In her cedars, effortlessness is not carelessness but a rhythmic belief that nature and human beings (as part of nature) are synchronised and it is Man’s job to survive without blocking that link with nature.It is in the simplicity of that principle and the effortlessness of the viewing experience that Lyn’s images are graceful as depictions of change. And change is what life and time are all about. Hence, our conversations of a lifetime. J A T

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