26 December 2011

Conducting nature: Jordan Cantwell

The Beach (2010)
   Jordan Cantwell has tapped into a method of painting that achieves some awesome results.
   Through his pieces, Cantwell takes up where the Impressionists left off by spacing out the canvases with his lively lines and dash-marks. It is a technique which allows us to delve deep and explore the unity of each object and life-form, while also allowing us to see the connection between all the objects and life-forms in the scene. 
   Describing his method in his own words, Cantwell says: "Sometimes there is a vague idea of what I want to happen, but as soon as the first mark is laid down, the course is instantly changed as I experience the interaction between myself and that mark and its influence on every mark after."
   Those words reveal that each piece contains a great deal of improvisation. Cantwell is not going for strict interpretation and neither is he going for strict expression, but rather he  presents us with symphonic pieces played in part by himself, by his ideas, by the colors, the canvas, the brush, and the time and place of his painting. In this way Cantwell is more the conductor of his pieces than the composer, and the freedom that exudes from their visual concert is unmistakeable and exciting.

   The Beach is especially connected to Impressionism, though the painting's scope is longer and it features more instinctual expressive strokes than the older style. The blend of representation and expression is seamless and the connection of multiple scopes and angles draw the eyes in as if it were more than a painting and closer to a live scene that we are entering.

Untitled (2011)
   Untitled (the piece above) is one of Cantwell's most abstract canvases. And yet, the yellow marks made by his painting knife against the grey background evoke ideas of bamboo shoots swaying against the wind, leaves floating in a pond, and kanji, the characters from Japanese script, while also connoting complexity, activity, unity, and peace.  
   "I felt complete freedom on this piece," Cantwell says. "It was created in a frenzy of intuition, and only took me two nights, which is a very uncommon time period for my work, because I work very thickly with oil paint which needs a lot of time to dry."

City (2010)

   "City is mostly oil with some acrylic in the background colors," Cantwell shares with us about the exotic painting above. "This was an attempt to show an ancient city, maybe a utopia of some dreamscape land. I tried to incorporate some architectural elements but also nothing that can be pinned down easily. The different layers in this piece give a certain ghost-like scene. Like this was a distant memory of time in the form of architectural forms. As if this place was floating in the clouds...in time." 
   To give us a little breathing space between the richness of Cantwell's images, let's hear what Cantwell has to say about how he arrived at his method:
   "One must create a self-taught language to communicate with others. It takes time to develop that language, and in a "purest" approach to art, one must sometimes live by their ritual and investigate what the flow is bringing them. I like to think that I am involved in something that trancends time, where there is no written word, but only shapes and colors and patterns and texture: a visceral experience that can be viewed and understood universally. I give myself a primal duty to recreate a sense of wonder of the landscape, nature and the universe, for past and future souls."

Chaser (2010)

   Chaser evokes a strong feeling that we have somehow risen above the mountaintops and are gazing down at the swarming interconnected forces of nature below us, the rays of light, streams of water, the rocks and valleys. At times, it's almost frightening how complex life can be, but if we pay attention we might find a rhythm to the scene, a uniting flow that balances it all together. The piece is a knock-out.
   "This piece to me is a geological melody. The matter is in action. It tries to capture the complexity of nature and time; its beauty and mystery.  It really shows the "interconnected forces of nature" in a ambiguous way. I believe one of the most primal instinctual reminders is when a person looks across a landscape and is reminded of how supreme these lands are. These habitats gave us ourselves and there is a religious way people throughout all of time have viewed their natural surroundings as divine." 

Backwoods Ramble (2011)

   Backwoods Ramble treats us to a view of a giant, human-seeming goat wandering freely over the tent-shaped figures in the foreground. The painting allows us to stand in awe of another life-form, one that is unknown, larger and with a special majesty. It kind of knocks us, as a species, down from our perch of comfortable domination and reminds us that nature has always been and always will be supreme. In that sense, it's a magical piece. 

Untitled (2011)
   When asked about how San Diego treats its artists, Cantwell says: "San Diego is tough place for artists. It is getting better constantly, but my worry is that there is little financial support for artists to allow them to produce as they should or need to."
   Lastly, when asked what guarantee he can give that he will continue sharing these fantastic dreamscapes of his, he says: "These dreamscapes are endless. This ritualistic process where the mood of the artist, degree of vagueness of the subject, and chance of the materials, can really create an infinite number of outcomes."
   Those are encouraging words and a sign of the supreme generosity of the universe. Thank you, universe. And thank you, Jordan Cantwell.

[For more info on Jordan Cantwell, feel free to visit his website at: 

1 comment:

  1. Jordan is the Beach available for purchase? Face book me or e-mail me at rarnold@guhsd.net. Yes, This is Mrs. Arnold