Silence and Light
Bullen, Duncan (2006) Silence and Light Otter Gallery, University of Chichester, Chicheter, UK.
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The research for this limited edition artist bookwork was undertaken during Bullen’s residency at the Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI) at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, USA, awarded through international competition and providing a research assistant, travel and accommodation. The Skillman Library at Lafayette also houses a rare and contemporary artist book collection, allowing ongoing investigation into the potential of the book as an artistic genre. ‘Silence and Light’ directly references the architectural abstraction of Louis I. Kahn in his book of the same name as well as drawing on the colour and patterning of the Amish quilts. Continuing his own investigation of sacred and abstract space, Bullen drew on the refined structural and formal qualities as well as a distillation of form and colour in these references in pursuing the represention of ‘silence and light’ through the luminescence, layering and translucency of colour and shape. Using multiple plate aquatint etching and letterpress, geometric forms and colours were drawn from a consistent and restricted repertoire with the aim of capturing metaphorical and poetic ideas. Davey’s accompanying catalogue essay asks: ‘Can a painting ever hope to capture such indefinable, nebulous qualities assilence and light? Can it step outside the boundaries of its physical and visual existence to represent the aural and invisible ...? This is the question that absorbs Duncan Bullen...Like an alchemist, Bullen struggles to transform a base metal into precious gold, changing the coloured earth of his pigments into something luminous; its material physicality into something light and weightless. His alchemical tools the simple grammar of painting: colour, line, pattern, symmetry and shape...He tackles the problem like a chemist bringing together unstable compounds, gently positioning a semi-circle of deep blue next to another of lighter blue, or a half quatrefoil of deep purple-blue next to one of orange-red'.
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