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Angel (left) 131 x 96cm Aftermath/ Elegy (centre) 131 x 191cm Suttee (right) 131 x 96cm Oil paint and wood chips on cotton duck
Heimkehr (framed) 61.5 x 184cm Oil paint and wood chips on cotton duck
Traces I 63 x 86cm Mixed media including ceramic on artist-made paper
Traces II 63 x 86cm Mixed media on artist-made paper
All art comes out of the dynamic of outer and inner experience; the viewers bring their own experience to the outer fact of the made work. The triptych Aftermath/Elegy is part of a body of Jim Dales’s work which is dark and resilient enough to stand on its own terms, to resonate with or against our outer reality.
We respond to the paintings with our harsh knowledge of the world, yet the work reaches beyond any specific associative instance of atrocity or ritual or tragedy; clearly we are not viewing illustrations, or simply pointed in some predetermined direction – this dislocation between recognition and mystery is where myth and poetry have their images.
Dales’s use of myth, poetry or narrative is never programmatic; the paintings take over and generate their own life and possibilities of meaning. The activity of making is one of continual reworking and rethinking, chance playing its part in the process of creating and obliterating. The work is painted over as part of a development – choices are sometimes made on a toss of a coin; what is obliterated in the overpainting or scraping is also a matter of chance – paint will either cover, or leave exposed, prominent or sunken aspects of previous layers.
His work is a play of textures and planes, deliberate and random linear traces, worked and less worked areas; each painting carries evidence of its own hidden history. What we see is what has survived, trace patterns of life. What is presented, in terms of form and content, is what has endured, and in this we find meaning. Its haunted harrowed character is at one with the darkness of our worlds, equal to anything beyond the frame.