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In the past four years I have had the opportunity to embark on some extensive travel in Asia. A journey to that continent is both an adventure and a pilgrimage.It changes the

way one sees the global community and the very thinking process itself. The frame of reference for our environment grows much broader.


In China I was struck by the very sophisticated sense of design and patterning that has permeated that culture and its decorative arts for centuries – often in stark contrast to the landscape and realities of daily life. Prior to my travels my prime focus in painting had been on colour, texture and composition. With a keen interest in human condition, I tended to an expressionistic style with a literal reference to subject. Some works depicted the human figure. Japanese and Chinese scroll paintings and woodcuts had always provided a rich influence as they have to many artists. After my travels I began to draw from a different place within. I wanted to paint my overall impressions of the country and culture. What occurred was a journey to abstraction. These works to me were visual haiku. I focused on something small, either an object or idea, and was moved to render it in a simple visual manner.

Art making after traveling in India was even more perplexing. Also teeming with humanity, the sense of disorder is even greater than in China. The layering of civilizations is even more pronounced, partly as a result of the many invaders who left their imprint on the country. To a large extent things are accepted as they are. Nehru described India as a palimpsest, each period and traveler in history layering over another, at times enriching and at other times destroying what was there. The fabric of Indian culture is rich colour, texture and ritual. It is overwhelmingly sensual in comparison to the minimalism of the West. The simplest of homes, particularly those of the village people, rich in decoration done by the woman of the house. This they have in common with many cultures of the developing world. Along with the preponderance of stimulant to the senses is what most western visitors perceive as an all pervasive spirituality. Spirituality and sensuality – continual partners in the journey through life. Downtrodden as many of the people

appear, they still possess a quiet elegance, sanctity and demeanour of acceptance.

How to render all these impressions and influences into a visual work of art ???.

The paintings came from within and took on a more Indian sensibility. This time the process of abstraction was more akin to music. It felt as though there were many more notes to put together into a visual composition.

Alice Burton
September, 2001

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