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André Martínez Reed

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Philip Sugden Visions From The Fields Of Merit

"As a human being the artist may have many moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is a man in a higher sense - he is a collective man' - one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind" Carl Jung.
October 7- Nov.21, 2010 Opening October 7 , from 6-9 NEW YORK.

Exhibit: Philip Sugden's Paintings & Drawings On journeys to the Himalaya and Tibet, Philip Sugden traveled as an artist but discovered a more fundamental process while drawing landscapes. He recognized that consciousness pursues people, trying to re-establish itself as the center of awareness—the mind literally trying to become aware of its own nature, as the Buddhists describe the ultimate goal of spiritual practice. The more Sugden explores the creative process in his studio and as a professor of art, the more he directly experiences some of the most fundamental Buddhist and Hindu concepts.

In the Hindu philosophy, the center—the Bindu—is the primal place of emergence and dissolution. There, an order already exists and is able to be achieved simply by being aware of itself within each moment. On his path as artist, Sugden becomes a pilgrim to the sacred center. Over the years, the studio has become his monastery, and the creative process his practice. While he works, he becomes more and more aware of that which exists beyond the shifting paradigms and playful projections of a conceptual mind. His series of artwork, “Visions from the Fields of Merit,” captures the fragmentary nature of most human realizations.

Conversely, he observed that the creative process as well as the object of creation utilizes a language of connection, linking one’s limited perception of the world to the vast, infinite realm of what is. As an animist, he seeks in the creative process a genuine connection to the sensual world of nature and to an ultimate reality. Although he has a better understanding of this process, he does not take his greater knowledge too seriously when, with each new discovery, there is new territory to explore.

One of the new works in this exhibit is a four-foot round oil painting entitled, Homage to Eve. To create the work, Phil mixed his mother Eve's ashes into the oil pigment and used the form of a traditional Buddhist mandala, representing the cosmos, on the outer rim. The inside imagery is one of the many Hindu temples in Nepal with a tree encircling the brick structure, revealing a conviction that a living tree is as important as the temple itself. Also, within the canvas are symbols representing his mother’s life: a tree branch on the ground in front of the entrance symbolizes his mother’s release of her physical body in order to enter the spiritual space within the open door. Above the door is an image of a stone relief female Buddha holding a cup of tea, his English mother's favorite drink. Sugden’s experiences reappear as imagery in the creative process, which he considers similar to processes used by ancient tribal shamans. For him, the artist is shaman, an intermediary between the visible and the invisible.

Biographical information: Born in Swanage, England, with formal training in Paris, France--Philip Sugden is a local artist who has worked for 30 years in his Findlay, OH studio, producing conceptual artwork that is inspired by his numerous journeys to Nepal, Tibet, and other Himalayan regions.

As a Professor of Art at Bluffton University, he not only teaches art fundamentals but explores the value of art as a transformative process in his own work and with his students through educational projects. Sugden works in a variety of media, from sepia ink drawings on handmade Himalayan paper to large, single, sectional oil paintings.


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