Change is the only constant in life. The Second law of thermodynamics states that entropy, the level of disorder or randomness in the system, is always increasing. It certainly is so with my work. Reconstructing old paintings is revisiting time. In a way it’s reversing time’s direction. In Quantum physics when a single photon is sent through a plank with two slits, it creates interference patterns with itself. (How often have I interfered with myself!) The past was not so much wrong as inexact. Shadows on the wall of Plato's cave. Reconstructing is a form of destroying myself at the same time as searching for myself. It permits me to become, for a moment, two.
To see the flaws in the old approach is to, without abandoning it, bring it into my current view. Repainting is a way of dealing with both the past and present. What results is an opening to the future. Painting on older, sometimes 40 years older, grid structure abstract paintings; I change the emphasis from an abstract form to a recognizable figure such as a face. The tension between these two references maintains interest. The jump is intuitive; the shifting of focus gives an ambiguity of content: lines encompass a form as they destroy it; color highlights a form, but also melts it.
The viewer forms the painting in his/her mind. Their forming is their own: directed by the painting but shaped by who they are. The discovery of something new that was always in us is the root of the power of art. And that change is permanent. The butterfly is no more a caterpillar. The eye and the body that receive the world’s phantasmagoria of impressions are materialized on the canvas with colors and shapes. The many become one. The one doing the perceiving is, for a moment, another.
Time becomes not one directional but cyclical: a loop. In the current vocabulary of physics, it’s a covariant quantum field. Six centuries before Christ, Anaximander of Miletus call it Aperion—the primal substance. I feel a connection to that ancient Greek, as I try to paint the granules of matter.
To revisit an old painting refreshes my current thinking. However to see the flaws in the old approach is, without abandoning it, bringing it into my current view. It’s correcting the past. Dealing with both the past and the present, it’s an opening to the future.
Seeing is a form of touching. I paint loosely until I feel I can touch the face. In some such way, light is composed of particles. I’m acutely aware of my vision, as I’ve experienced extensive damage to my right eye. In this autobiographic statement I find the paintings more potent as they urge with life. Oddly I find the distorted view from that eye reinforces the granular effect of quantum gravity. It's about recomposition. Like Emily Dickinson drafting on chocolate wrappers, I fix my pixilated past.
John Beardman, Pennsylvania, July 2017