Aaron T Brown 2012
Artist Statement #1
I have been drawing abstract shapes since I was a child. At the age of eleven my father gave me the book, ‘The Art of Jean Arp’ by Herbert Read, a book that I treasure to this day. I think that my father recognized that I had a kindred spirit in the German born artist. I poured through this book over and over again. I consider Arp my mentor, and feel that he continues to have a profound influence on my art.
My shape making today is dynamic, and the resulting work is imbued with a palpable life, an aliveness that the viewer senses when beholding the work, transporting them to the same exciting moment when the piece was being created. People sense this vitality within the forms, and are enlivened. At the same time my work is restful to behold, as the harmonies and balance of the forms, imbue a sense of equanimity and peace, having a magic of their own, resonating within.
A number of my pieces are works for our times. Tshiluba (Plate 18) and Tuatara (Plate 23) are two such pieces. (please refer to images under heading prints on my website www.aarontbrown.com). Both were named using an esoteric method, a means of divination that my wife and I affectionately call the dictionary oracle. We ask a question, and flip through the pages of an old dictionary, plunk a finger down, and so sayeth the dictionary. Both of these pieces, born out of the spontaneous freedom of the creative act seem to be a voice from that unseen world that would aid and abet us humans, if we lend it an ear.
Tshiluba was named first. For about seven years I had called this print ‘delegation’ as I had always thought of the four shapes as different beings that had come together for a special meeting. I had thought from time to time that I would like a better name for this work, as delegation had always seemed too human like to me, fraught with argument, discord and the like.
So one day I asked my wife what she thought might be a better name for it, and she piped up, “why don’t you ask the dictionary”. Good idea I said, having not been in the habit of consulting the dictionary for such practical matters. We took the dictionary out, got quiet and reverent, (oracles like that), and flipped through the pages. I put my finger down smack on the word “Tshiluba” (chi-’looba), trade language of the southern regions of the Congo, a language that the many different speaking tribes of the Congo had used to talk to one another to negotiate trade.
Now when something like this happens with the dictionary we have a saying which goes like this “the dictionary is hot!” so without further ado after considerable exclamations of awe and wonder, we decided to ask about another favorite print of mine whose name had been bothering me for about ten years. I called it ‘Sunrise’ but it never quite seemed like a sun to me. I didn’t know what it was. Again quiet and reverence, flipping, putting the finger down, Tuatara: The last surviving rynocephalinian living off the coastal waters of New Zealand. A small nine inch lizard. Sure enough, there in the piece were the spiny fins of the lizard, peaking out from behind the coastal rocks, the aqua marine of the sea in the distance.
Tshiluba, a common language for human kind, and Tuatara, a plea from a small lizard, clinging to its survival on a remote outpost.
Jean Arp tore paper into pieces and let them fall, and where they landed became the composition. In 1966 a young boy of eleven years age is given a museum quality book from his father, ‘The Art of Jean Arp’ a year after the old artist dies, and a seed is planted in fertile ground. What treasure, this beautiful continuity.
Note: Please see Tuatara and Tshiluba on the Prints page
Artist Statment #2
I make silent steel talk
I cut with band saw, scroll saw, plasma torch. Sanders, grinders, abrasive flap wheels do their work. Printing press allowing tons per square inch, pressed into cotton paper, from cut forms. I access the unborn, unseen world, and something is created, taking shape in paper, wood, steel, expressing its self, desiring its own birth, now here for you and I to behold and contemplate.
My art is an exploration, an exploration that leaves in its wake a record that others can behold. This is one of art’s gifts to the world, this record left behind, this inner journey revealed. Here the viewer can take their own journey through the magical realms of shape color and form, taking delight in the unexpected, this is new territory here, and it fills the imagination.
Art for me is an improvisational dance, its movement caught on paper, wood and steel. The movement is born out of my love of rhythm and form, coming mysteriously out of an unknowing frame of mind. In the moment of creation, something is happening, something is being born. I watch as I draw with pen or cut with saw, an impromptu dance, here fluid motion, now staccato, twisting, turning, stopping, starting, watching as the wonderful forms appear.