Gareth Bate

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Floating World Paintings

Artist Statement
Gareth Bate
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The Floating World paintings are a response to the mental impact of the Japanese Tsunami. They are a kind of Vanitas. Scenes of great beauty suddenly engulfed by devastation. Imagine standing in wonder at the view before you, just as a Tsunami washes it all away.

My recent work explores our ultimate scale and significance in the universe. These paintings depict three perspectives simultaneously; the atomic, the human and the cosmic. The landscapes and cosmos scenes are a metaphor for the beauty we experience. In the work, the universe represents a sense of endless possibilities, and yet an existential terror of our final insignificance. This same feeling is also evoked through the pointillist effect that appears in several paintings. Things seem to be splitting apart or dissolving into atoms.

The tsunami represents total sublime horror for the human being. It is complete and utter devastation, indiscriminate and inescapable. The aerial video footage of the Japanese Tsunami was the most horrifying thing I've ever seen. It spread through entire cities and farmlands, demolishing and consuming everything in its path. All you have, including your life, can be swept away in an instant. Natural disasters are for me, one of the things that make a belief in God impossible.

The title Floating World is obviously a reference to Japan, but it also represents the Earth itself. We are fragile and barely staying afloat. For the first time in years a human presence has returned to my work. Although these paintings could be seen as bleak, it is impossible for an artwork to be nihilistic. Making art is inherently about creating meaning out of life.            


Special Thanks: Graham Jackson, Dawne Rudman, John Brown, Carolyn Dinsmore.

Dates: Feb. 2010 - Dec. 2010
Medium: Acrylic on wood
Exhibitions: Floating World Loop Gallery, June 25 - July 10, 2011