A windy rooftop, flowing water and generous light each set the stage for an outsider’s cleansing experience. This person’s behaviour does not fit societal norms. Whatever brought him to that moment is not evident, however it is reasonable to assume that he shares many of the same hopes and desires as others whose habits fit societal expectations. His actions may express a desire for connection, a wish to commune with something greater than himself, and a need to be free. Elements in this drawing are reconstituted from actual structures and experiences in my life that gain meaning when assembled in this way.
The individual depicted here has acquired water, food and shelter despite a scarcity of means. However, the need for safety, love and belonging may not be satisfied. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of human needs suggests that the fulfillment of these states is prerequisite to higher requirements being addressed, such as the need to express oneself creatively, the quest for intellectual enrichment or the transcendence of self through altruistic thoughts and actions.* The dweller in this drawing appears to have engaged with these latter processes, given the architectural invention, literary explorations and offering of an extra bowl of sustenance to the viewer. Perhaps this subversion of the hierarchy of needs is what it takes to thrive artistically and to achieve self-actualization and self-transcendence.
The vision of Tom Hopkins, the late Canadian painter, emerged from the alchemy of light and colour that permeated his subject matter. The ordinary building blocks for his compositions were usually still-life objects, people, trees, water and buildings. These things became extraordinary and monumental within the structure of his paintings and the symphonies of light and atmosphere that he composed.
With the passing of Tom, I have comforted myself with the notion that he has walked into his own vision of the world: mythic, sparkling and glorious. For my homage to Tom, I chose to reinterpret one of his favourite motifs, the Turcot interchange in Montreal, with its arcing overpasses and vertical supports. I imagined Tom thoughtfully removing his glasses as he transcended this world and entered the radiant place that his art has evoked, no longer having to view its grandeur from afar.
ISLAND OF LIGHT
Imagine seeing the sublime in all things both large and small. Imagine an art that opens portals to this experience. Imagine an artist who, in sacred silence, crafts these portals, where worlds beyond sparkle like secret gems. Imagine the magic of that place, where only few might venture. Imagine the purity of intention, to not seek glory or wealth. Imagine the privilege of being a witness. Imagine this universe, and my father might quietly appear.
Frank R. Mulvey
This was the last drawing that I completed before my father passed away unexpectedly. I grew to see this drawing as a tribute to my father, who worked in solitude as an artist, very rarely exhibiting his work. He was a painter and photographer, and taught graphic design for many years at the university level. He was a great and gentle man. His presence is implied in the brightly lit window of a tall and mysterious building. He had a deep love and respect for typography and its history, and had a hand in this drawing because he coached me regarding letter spacing in the depiction of words painted onto the side of a brick building in this drawing. In my mind, these words came to represent my father after he was gone, and they serve as the title for this piece.
CLOSER TO EMPYREAN
There exists a strange mannerism in portraying light as tightly packed thin rays, in particular divine radiance or emanation. Giotto, whose works signalled the dawn of the Renaissance, was one of many artists in the history of art to adopt this approach. This way of depicting light prompted me to create this drawing. During the conception of this piece, it occurred to me that just as we are all caressed by the light of the sun on a daily
basis, so too has all of humanity shared this experience through the ages. In this artwork, light can be interpreted as a metaphor for the work of past artists that infuses our lives today with inspiration.
The sensation of light transcends boundaries of time and space. Here, the light reaching out to touch the woman’s face is like distant music also heard and echoed onwards by Giotto and countless others. The arched metal framing element is designed to suggest an intimate world into which this metaphysical light permeates.
The mosaic design in this drawing shows an ocean as seen through the eyes of an artist from centuries past, teeming with life, energy and spirituality. In this isolated chamber, a glimmer of that radiant experience can be felt. The woman in the image immerses herself in the experience.
GLIMPSE OF EMPYREAN
This drawing is inspired from a colourful painting by Canadian artist Tanya Morand entitled The Runner. Having purchased the artwork, I obtained permission from the artist to do a “remake,” in the same spirit as a cinematic remake of an old movie. It was a great pleasure to reinvent the tableau in black and white with a gritty urban setting. Architectural elements take their inspiration from industrial areas of Montreal, and the structures in the bottom left corner are adapted from old photos of the New York subway system under construction in the 1920s. The model for the fleeing figure was asked to run while holding a basketball—a somewhat simpler proposition than running with a glass bowl filled with water and fish. The crumbling sidewalk, tilted in the foreground to add a precarious quality to the image, provided an excuse for enhancing a depth effect by using a pattern density gradient in the crack structure as it recedes away from the viewer. The fish are partially silver-leafed, producing reflection effects that give them a life of their own as the viewer moves in for closer study.
LA TOUR D’ENCEINTE
Depicted in this drawing is a woman who sits watchfully, her pregnancy armoured to protect her progeny. Castles of the Middle Ages were also fortified for this same purpose, with moats, thick walls, and towers serving as the outermost line of defence. The French term for the latter structure is, aptly, tour d’enceinte.
This image was inspired from a dance performance by a Greek choreographer who both drew on and built upon old traditions. Although not based on a moment or gesture in the dance piece, the drawing taps into the heritage of mosaic art and myth from ancient Greece, making reference to the goddess of memory and inspiration, Mnemosyne. A bird motif is used as a vehicle for transforming old forms and investing them with new life and inspiration. The woman’s hands are evocative of the wings of a flying bird.
THROUGH THE GENERATIONS . . .