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Trevor Pye


Born: Te Awamutu, New Zealand. 1952

I have been exhibiting since 1982 and have been involved in over forty group and solo shows. My work, both painting and sculpture is represented in collections in Australia and New Zealand. When I'm not making art, I work as a children's book illustrator.

I have recently been reading Lesley Kenton's Journey to Freedom. In the introductory chapters she relates an experience of the numinous which she rates as one of the most important in her life.

Trevor PyeAn experience in which, while walking through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, space expanded in all directions; both joyous and terrifying, where, in her words, "a million tiny holes appeared in reality - each emitting light - so that the air and grass, the pavement we had just crossed, the bodies of the men in their shabby clothes, the clouds above us and the trees around us, trembled with radiance...my heart seemed to grow to immense proportions."

This kind of exceptional event is a central concern in my work. While I am aware that such an experience is not reproducible in art, or language, or any form of material expression - an act such as painting can, I believe, point us toward, or at least invite us to begin to negotiate in some way this entry into the sacred.

An American occultist - Paul Foster Case, I think it was - once said that the universe, in its ever becomingness, is engaged in one great, eternal, ecstatically convulsive sexual act.

Human joy, as well as suffering are expressions of this divine intercourse, as obviously is the human act of sex. Nature, (naturally!) is the example par excellence of this dance.

The idea that everything is part of one sexual encounter, as a kind of explanation for experiences such as Lesley's (and any other form of experience for that matter) - implies of course that fundamental to this great interplay; this great exchange, is the notion of relationship; of polarity; of one relating to another.

A painting evolves out of developing relationships. It is the result of a constant interplay or push-pull - with representations of form and space, of light and dark, of feminine and masculine; relationships between the painter and the work; the viewer and the work, etc., etc. These are all acts of polarity - of give and take, of me and the other, of smooth and rough - and they are everywhere at all times.

By taking my experience of the landscape, playing with it, and presenting it as a series of more or less abstract relationships, I am able to sense this divine interplay - in the midst of an act of creation.

But when I paint, I don't think about content or philosophical base - that comes later - after the work is completed, I don't think about much at all, and in that not-thinking space I (think I) begin to understand more clearly the mystery that Lesley Kenton is referring to.

Her experience is a certain kind of relationship - a merging, a sacred marriage and a birth of a new set of conditions; a relationship that is fundamental to all spiritual philosophies. Making art is not too different from all that.

And that, for me, is the yin and yang of it.

Feb 2000

Contact Trevor Pye at rovert@kiwilink.co.nz

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