Saturday 30 November 2013

Aesthetics Divided and United: A Tale of Two Studios

The oven sits prominently in the room, greedily consuming electricity by the kilowatt, radiating heat, instantly frying the unfortunate insects which choose to land there.  The Artist watches as his assistant Took, her brow beaded with sweat and arms encased in protective gloves, raises the lid to check the progress of the molten contents within.  The pair exchange glances and nod, smiling.  Rising from his stool, the Artist stretches his long limbs, and covers the distance to the workshop exit in a few giant strides.  He steps outside.

A wall of hot air greets him, and everything is gilded by the rays of the incandescent sun.  The faint revving of scooters intermingles with the back-and-forth of a conversation conducted in a foreign tongue.

This is Chaiyaphum, Thailand.  Isolation.  Solitude.  Contentment.  The sensation of being here never changes, and the Artist relishes this.  Here, in this place, his thoughts and feelings are free to take flight, to enjoy their freedom, to vie for attention in his mind.  Here, the kernel of an idea can blossom into a fully-fledged design for a new work of art.  For the Artist, inspiration calls from the streets, from the happy, friendly people who inhabit this corner of the planet.  He exhales slowly, turns back to the workshop door and opens it.

A slight breeze greets him; a familiar scene unfolds before his eyes.  Ancient townhouses stand sentinel over the street with Atlas perched high above on the Queen's Palace, always watching, never judging.  Tourists shriek and shout, seeking shelter under cafe awnings as a carpet of rain makes its customary appearance.  Swarms of cyclists are all but a blur in the Artist's vision as they race towards an unknown destination.  A tram intersects the road, chiming its bell like a mobile church.  It is a kaleidoscope of sound and motion, at once chaotic and organised, bewildering and beautiful.  This is Amsterdam.  Home.  The Artist smiles.

Belonging, acceptance, liberality, internationality: they flood the streets of the city, washing over inhabitants and visitors alike.  The Artist is no exception; he is galvanised by the electric atmosphere, spurred on to discover new ways of expressing his perception of the world through tangible aesthetic forms.  From his compact studio behind the Dam Square he listens for the ebb and flow of city life, allowing it to fill the room and influence his thoughts.  Synapses in the Artist's fertile mind are fired by the vitality of it all, and, amid the tumult, a new group of ideas begins to take shape.  Embryonic in form, they require encouragement, patience, love.

These he will take with him back to Thailand.  And the creative cycle continues, one location serving as the yin to the other's yang, fostering a process of cross-cultural fertilisation.

Written by Grant Price