Kay Wood - paintings 1996 -1997
About the "Paraleipsis series" In art meaning fluctuates dependent upon the viewer’s reactions. Recognizing this tendency and wishing to use it in active participation, my work is not didactic. Instead it suggests, hoping to influence. The main explorations are the aesthetic and thematic balances created by combining different elements to play off one another. Formalistically it is the attempt to balance different textures, paint handling and stylistic forms to create a whole.
Some thoughts while creating the books and paintings: The melting of ice revealing what had been covered up; emerging from water; from an earlier series that focused on fossils - the beauty of things so old and their effect on humanity for reflection; the unearthing of fossils; the process of their discovery; the discovery of our past; its connections to our future; what we will leave behind for the ages; a dialogue about nature/environment’s effect on humanity and vice versa - both spiritual and corporeal. These are thoughts about the work, not specific guide lines for meaning.
A number of images have repeated in my work over time. The abstracted shape one sees in numerous pieces started out as an abstract head and neck symbolizing the human spirit. The form, however, is able to take on varied meanings depending on its juxtaposition. Over the years I have had people tell me many interpretations of the image such as a seed, a womb, a bone socket, sperm, even a light bulb and from one very hungry little girl an ice cream cone, besides the head and neck abstraction originally intended. This openness of interpretation is essential to the content of the work.
A second example of a repeated image is the detail of “Paraleipsis” which shows a rhesus macaques monkey. The monkey is from a fascinating specimen I came across a while ago. Its story is that just before the turn of the last century the monkey died of old age at a zoo. For unknown reasons people then decided to autopsy it and preserve it in a specially made glass jar. The jar can never be opened without destroying the specimen. The one of a kind jar is sealed by an irreplaceable gasket. The creature is immersed in formaldehyde cramped in the specimen jar effectively for ever.
In the painting “Reflection,” the shell detail is in fact not a shell at all, but a fossil from the Cretaceous period. The shell leached away eons ago, leaving an elegant impression in the mud that solidified around it. We see the form of its front and its back in remarkable detail, but not the shell itself. These and other images are used in the work, both paintings and books, symbolically. The aim is to spur thought not direct it.
I use several mediums, and frequently juxtapose one next to another. In the paintings on canvas, paper, or wood I use acrylic for the most part but frequently add conté or charcoal, pencil, ink, or string and occasionally oil paint/medium as the piece demands. Painting sizes range from quite small to quite large (6”x8” to 86”x90”) and they can be either unstretched or stretched works on canvas, single or multi-panel works, or works on paper.