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BASIL BEATTIE: ILLUMINATED INTERIOR PAUL MOORHOUSE

The possibility of metaphor springs from the elasticity of the human mind; it testifies to its capacity to perceive and assimilate new experiences as modifications of earlier ones, of finding equivalences in the most disparate of phenomena and of substituting one for another. Without this constant process of substitution neither language nor art, nor indeed civilised life would be possible. (Ernst Gombrich, Visual Metaphors of Value in Art.1)

W

e do not live passively. From the earliest moments of cognition, the individual strives to understand the world. The infant responds to light. Soon, he or she returns the gaze of others.With growing movements, the child begins to explore, reaching towards unfamiliar things. One by one, each object must be touched, tested for pain or pleasure, and the resulting memory then added to a store of fermenting experience. Later, as reason illuminates a developing sense of the self, a person begins to take shape and to assume identity. The mission embarked upon at that time is, perhaps, one that never entirely ends. Relying on sensory impressions, a human being must each day locate their personal experiences within a universe whose nature and purpose remain forever unknowable and, at times, seemingly absurd. The prospect is both bewildering in its enormity and complexity and, yet, inescapably rooted in the subjective, the particular and the fleeting. An accretion of private perceptions describes an existence. A horizon beckons and we move, inexorably, towards it. Among contemporary artists, Basil Beattie’s work occupies a position rendered distinctive by its willingness to engage with this personal and universal condition. At some level, all art holds up aspects of experience for scrutiny and, in so doing, attempts to make sense of life. The range and quality of responses is as manifold and as variable as its infinitely complex theme. But within that plethora of activity, Beattie’s art stands out as a quiet but compelling voice within a 7

Basil Beattie LARGE WORKS 1986 2009  

Bail Beattie Large Paintings and Installations

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