Tracy Payne: Yang

Page 1


MICHAEL STEVENSON Hill House De Smidt Street Green Point 8005 PO Box 616 Green Point 8051 Cape Town tel +27 (0)21 421 2575 fax +27 (0)21 421 2578

Cover Emerald Monk, 2007 (detail)


‘Open your eyes and you are in paradise.’ Stephen Karcher, The Kuan Yin Oracle: The Voice of the Goddess of Compassion, 2001

Four years ago I watched Shaolin Wheel of Life, a video of China’s Shaolin monks in performance, and was transfixed. Here were spiritual men, Zen Buddhists, and at the same time masters of the martial art of kung fu; a seeming paradox. Men so strong yet whose bodies looked soft, their faces serene. They seemed to embody the masculine principle, sacred yang, a perfect marriage of the spiritual and the physical. They are essentially men of peace, for to initiate an attack is an aggressive act, contrary not just to the spirit of kung fu but also to life itself. They are true ‘warriors of light’ (to use Paulo Coelho’s term), for they do not set out to conquer others but rather use their physical strength in self-defence to protect that which is sacred. It was as if I’d found through these monks a new beginning with ‘man’, a place of forgiveness and appreciation. I began my monks with the simple act of grinding Japanese ink stone to make ink. In time I progressed to oil on canvas, handling these works quite differently. I prepared the surface of the canvas by combing acrylic paste across the surface, thus creating a texture of ‘threads’. The painting process became more like weaving – from left to right, right to left. Most of the images exist in the space of meditation just prior to action, ‘the quiet before the storm’ so to speak. Others explore a whole range of emotions from inward serenity through to an outward expression of power. Much like a lion lying quietly and then throwing his head back in a magnificent roar. Pure yang energy. Tracy Payne, Cape Town, 2007

Awakening I 2006 Oil, glitter and gold pigment powder on combed acrylic on canvas 128 x 180cm

Awakening II 2006 Oil, glitter and gold pigment powder on combed acrylic on canvas 128 x 180cm

‘Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not as a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you.’ Ch’an Master Sheng-yen

Source material, video stills from Shaolin Wheel of Life

Altered States I – X 2007 Japanese ink, watercolour, blusher and gold pigment powder on paper 75 x 54cm each

Beautiful Monk 2006 Oil on combed acrylic on canvas 128 x 270cm

Starburst Monk 2007 Oil and glitter on combed acrylic on canvas 180 x 256cm

Golden Boy 2007 Oil and glitter on combed acrylic on canvas 128 x 270cm

Studio photographs by Tracy Payne

Emerald Monk 2007 Oil and glitter on combed acrylic on canvas 128 x 270cm

‘The warrior of light meditates.’ Paulo Coelho, Manual of the Warrior of Light, 2003

Rain of Blessings 2007 Japanese ink, watercolour and blusher on paper 151 x 107cm

Sacred Yang 2007 Oil and glitter on combed acrylic on canvas 128 x 180cm

Stills from documentary video by Tracy Payne

Grinderman I 2007 Chinese and Japanese ink on paper 107 x 151cm

‘So toss aside the coarse straw mat Of self-denial in this world And for your prayer mat take flesh As the place for your devotions’ Li Yu, The Prayer Mat of Flesh, 1634

Grinderman II 2007 Chinese and Japanese ink on paper 107 x 151cm

I would like to thank the Shaolin monks of China, and my yoga teacher Bev Roberts for introducing me to their video, Shaolin Wheel of Life. To all the staff at Michael Stevenson Gallery, thank you for your support, and to Michael Stevenson, Sophie Perryer and Andrew Da Conceicao, thank you for walking the path with me. Thank you to Natalie Payne for her beautiful photographs. Thanks to Mom and Dad and my dear friends.

Tracy Payne

Tracy Payne was born in 1965 in Cape Town and continues to live there, working from a studio in Observatory. She graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, in 1987. Her debut exhibition, held with two contemporaries, took place in 1989 at the UCT Irma Stern Museum – and she returned to this venue for her third, acclaimed solo exhibition, PostTokyo, in May 2004. She exhibited new paintings alongside Deborah Poynton and Diane Victor at Michael Stevenson in August 2004, followed by her solo exhibition Sacred Yin in September 2005. Her first monk portraits were shown on the gallery’s 2006 season exhibition, South African Art Now. Also in 2006 her work was included on the travelling exhibition New Painting and on Second to None at the Iziko South African National Gallery.

Catalogue no 28 July 2007 Editor Sophie Perryer Design Gabrielle Guy Image repro Ray du Toit Printing Hansa Print, Cape Town


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.