Monday, May 14, 2012

Contemporary art beyond the gallery

January 5, 2011 Gordon Halloran’s Lotus In Motion, the Watercolor Project uses site, scale and colour to attract viewers. Like bees to bright flowers, we are seduced by vibrancy, lured out of our individual pursuits into collective play. Working along the trajectory of his unique, sculptural ice paintings, (Paintings Below Zero), Halloran employs water as part of the artwork’s physicality. Composed of giant floating lily pads, Lotus In Motion, the Watercolor Project is an installation of shape and hue that finds inspiration in Claude Monet’s Impressionist Waterlilies, calving Arctic icebergs, and overlapping organic textures of landscape flora. The process of re-discovering these points of reference through the act of painting, and then allowing the installation to form an experiential interstices of contemporary art with a natural setting, creates a link between aesthetic enjoyment and conceptual understanding. The Lotus paintings develop an indexical collaboration with water; the water moves the paintings, and the meandering of the lily pads gestures back to the natural action of the body of water. As the audience traverses the water’s edge, they gain fresh perspective on the slowly turning installation: a journey of shape and color relationships. Juxtaposing abstract sensibility with ecological patterns, the piece conjures questions and leads the imagination. It is surprising to find paintings outside, placed in the natural world rather than the white-walled gallery; in the unexpected one can discover joy, notice calm, remark on sensation. Overlapping, shifting canvases on the water of a pond reconfigure our knowledge of painting as a static medium; these are paintings in flux, paintings that work together and relate to each other as well as their site, not just in space, but over time as each moves in response to wind and wave. The installation leads one into the beauty and energy of nature, but does not attempt to be natural. With Lotus In Motion, Halloran shows us that contemporary art functions beyond the gallery, in the public sphere, and influences our everyday by making one notice the vibrancy of a moment. On completion of the installation project, the paintings are collected and a number of lily pads are then selected for composition onto canvas. These collaged works become a permanent legacy to the public installation.

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