“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.
Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Neither color nor time is tangible, yet both ground our reality and existence. When considering their source, time and color are ways in which the human mind perceives and translates light energy into a cognizant experience. I am fascinated by the way in which the phenomena of waves embody the infinities of color and time. Like time, waves are constantly moving. Like color, a single wave elicits infinite perceptual variability. Waves are eternally variable; never taking the same shape twice. Each is fleeting, beautiful, simultaneously deep and shallow. My paintings explore the subtleties within our daily reality, which are inflected by the subjective and relative perception of color and time.
The process through which I create these paintings documents singular and accumulated moments of time, as I intentionally vary surface quality and topography. There are isolated, flat matte marks representing a specific moment – unaltered and forever preserved. Other marks are built up, either in multiple layers of thin transparent colors or physical medium, creating a topographical record of multiple moments. In addition to its ability to physically mark a moment or the passage of time, I use various paint media because of their infinite color variability. Although the colors within each painting may be perceived as the same, they cannot be equal. I never use the same mixed pigment twice, creating a new batch each day. Just as a single drop of water is to the abysmal ocean, or a day is to the infinity of time, each one of these methodological and compositional decisions invites viewers to notice the small subtleties while simultaneously experiencing the whole.
The daily perceptual occurrences that are fundamental to my work embody both Melville’s “insular Tahiti” and “appalling ocean” at once. There is security and peace in the perceptual recognition of a color – the eye and the mind can recognize a blue. Yet horrors exist in that same blue – as with all perception, there is ambiguity and variability that can only be “half known”. I hope my viewers do not take for granted the comfort that rests within everyday perception. Instead, push and look for the “horrors of the half known life”, for in their infinity there is beauty, brilliance, insight, and discovery.
- Haley Andres, 2014