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  • Writer's pictureLewis Deeney

Chaos & Order

The philosophy of Chaos & Order in relation to the paintings of Lewis Deeney.

By Lewis Deeney

What You See is You

When you observe the work, anything that you experience is a reflection of your own inner reality.

When gazing into a mirror, you see the reflection of your own face, the material ‘you’ reflecting back. Continuing with this analogy, when you look into the painting what you are seeing- beyond simply the material artwork- is your own conscious experience, the immaterial ‘you’ reflecting back. We unconsciously and therefor automatically project our own experiences and associations upon the painting. These paintings are intentionally non-objective, meaning that they do not aim to depict or refer to anything from the material world and serve to express immaterial aspect of our existence: therefor there is nothing definitive for the mind to associate with, but that does not mean it does not try. Associations are an unconscious phenomena, they help us to navigate the world by analysing and finding patterns in our environment, before projecting our past experiences upon our present observations, in order to construct our present reality and better anticipate our future. The mind finds associations within the painting that are not physically there and are only present in our subjective experience of it.

There is no objective meaning for you to attempt to decipher within the painting. This does not mean that my personal philosophy-which I shall discuss later- is not embedded within the painting, as the creator I am forever entangled with the painting but the symbolism I find within it is a reflection of my conscious experience, built up by associations in my mind. It is in our human nature to project meaning upon our experience- even if there is none to be found- the non-objective nature of the painting means that the meaning I find within it is a manifestation of my subjective experience and not a reflection of the true meaning within the work: the works true meaning is that it acts as catalyst for you to experience yourself and the world from a new perspective, through the awareness of the meaning that you project upon it. What am I trying to tell you is that any story or meaning you credit to the painting is actually your own interpretation of it. The works philosophy is in what the work represents and what it allows you to see: not in the its material manifestation or the personal meaning I assign to it.

The painting can be seen as the fertile ground for your imagination to blossom the flowers of our unconscious mind. That is why I ask you to sit with the work and to see what arises, any experience you have is a reflection of yourself and is a way to better understand who you are. The painting is the doorway to your unconscious: a way to look inwards by looking out.

The World is Creative & So Are We.

The world is beautifully creative:

creating itself a new in every moment.

Everything is in a constant state of change, stability is an illusion from our perspective of time and space. For the world to be in a state of change it must be changing into something and that act of change is a creative act. As a flower grows, it is informed and guided by the intrinsic knowledge of how to be a flower, knowledge which has evolved over time and been passed down through generations. There is a force that flows through and connects all flowers, a force beyond that of the individual and connects the lineage of flowers from the inception point from which all life arose. This force is a creative force and informs the present growth of the flower, yet all flowers are unique, the growth of a flower is not fixed but dynamic, the flower grows and creatively adapts to its environment and in doing so changes the environment, which in turn changes the growth of the flower. Both the flower and its environment are intimately connected in continual dance of creation. A dance that includes all life, at every layer of reality and the rhythm of creation is what connects all things together in an infinitely evolving cosmic dance of creation.

What makes human unique is our awareness of this creation, which gifts us the opportunity to consciously create within it and connect with the higher creative force that flows through every part of existence. Our ability to think abstractly, to share and express imagined concepts and ideas- be it the arts, science, writing, coding, creating tools or simply slicing bread- is a blessing to humanity. Our collective human intelligence is a creative intelligence and we are continually building upon and expanding the ideas of those who came for before us. Art and abstract thinking evolve, our consciousness evolves and we inherit the ideas of our ancestors which are embedded within our collective unconscious. Our collective creativity is what built roads and building, iPhones and televisions, vaccinations and atomic bombs, it is what got us to the moon and created our Gods. Human ideas are most powerful thing on the planet. All humanities greatest achievements started with an idea, an abstract thought, which blossomed through time and combined with our collective intelligence, built the world we live in today. Creativity is not isolated to the arts but spans out across society, humanity and the cosmos. Creation is our natural state of being as it is when we are most connected to the creative dance of the cosmos. We all have the ability to create, to think abstractly and imagine a better world. We are all creative, creating ourselves a new in every moment.

Unifying Polarities In The Creative Process.

True balance is an ideal which can never be maintained, only experienced as a fleeting moment. Yet we must strive symbolically for it and find harmony in the oscillation of opposites and joy in the process of unifying them.

My work can be thought of as a unification of two different and symbolically opposing elements: the two elements being geometry and abstraction. I create my compositions- the geometry- and the painted surface- the abstraction- separately and combine the two but cutting my digital geometric compositions into my abstract painting before re arranging the pieces to create what you are looking at just now.

Geometry is a universal language that has been practised across the globe for millennia, from spiritual art practices to mathematics. Our brains are wired to find patterns in our environment, in order to better navigate and understand it, and through this we have an instinctual draw towards geometry, symmetry and logical structure. Geometry therefor has a universal, human appeal to it and is a language we can all equally appreciate and understand, as I use geometry in this sense for its aesthetic and spiritual qualities.

So we have spoke about geometry, but what about abstraction? Everything that we consciously perceive is an abstraction, an abstraction of our environment interpreted as a symbol by our consciousness. Through language we label and define our world, creating abstract word symbols to share and express our ideas. However, we each have our own subjective experience of these symbols. For example, your experience of the word dog differs to mine, I think of a wee white bundle of joy named Katie, and you may think of your grans loveable husky or contrary you may be scared of dogs and the word dog provokes a negative response. No experience is right nor wrong only subjective, and the word dogs does not directly refer to anyones understanding of it, it is simply a noise or collection of letters that we collectively agree means a furry four legged friend. The word ‘dog’ is an abstraction of what the real living reality of what a dog actually is and when we hear the word dog we interpret the word in our consciousness and create our own experience of it. This is true for all language and forms of communications, and even our sensory perception, light only becomes light when we abstract and interpret light rays and create the experience of colour inside our mind. My paintings use abstraction to express that which is not of material representation: thoughts, feelings and emotions are captured within the layers of paint. Painting, for me, is a playful meditation, an effort to transcend the conscious mind and connect with my higher self. The result is what appears to be total abstraction as it is a visualisation of that which we cannot comprehended visually, logically understood or communicated: A paradoxically impossible effort to give form to the formless.

Both elements are then brought together. The combination of geometry and abstraction is a balance between opposites, the orderly logical structure of the geometry is contrasted by the chaotic, intuitive expression of the painted surface. The works creates a dynamic equilibrium: a symbolical unification of Chaos & Order.

My Intention and the Mandala.

See who you truly are and not who society tells you to be.

The intention behind my work is to encourage internal contemplation, for you to see past the illusion of who and what society tells you you are and to experience who you truly are. This thought process begun after exploring the mandala: which serves as the underlying blueprint for my Chaos & Order series.

A mandala is a geometric composition, symmetrically radiating outwards from a central point. Its significance however transcends its two dimensional representation, the mandala is a spiritually significant symbol, the archetypal symbol of wholeness in the words of Carl Jung, who believed the mandala to be a powerful tool for self actualisation. From modern psychotherapy to ancient Buddhist practices and Celtic knot-work, the mandala has manifested itself in countless forms throughout history.

Mandalas are like flowers, every culture has their own unique interpretation of it and assigns varies meaning to it, however flowers- like mandalas- are universally shared, flowers express the beauty of the material whereas mandalas express the beauty of the immaterial.

However varied its expression its overlying philosophy has remained consistent: a tool to simultaneously connect us with our inner self and universe as a whole. The mandala represents the interconnected unity of our world, bringing balance to the opposing forces that construct our perception of reality: light and dark; feminine and masculine; Yin & Yang or the mantra I follow, chaos and order, all dancing together in perfect harmony. But how can a mandala represent our internal experience as well as the external world as a whole? The paradox is the point, we cannot comprehend it from our human experience. We think abstractly in the form of metaphors and symbols and that is what the mandala is, a metaphorical bridge between our inner and outer world: the spiritual and the material, self and other together as one.

To meditate over the mandala is too contemplate your true self, the wholeness of your being and to integrate the seemingly separate parts- the good and the bad- of your psyche into the totality of who you are. To become more aware, more whole and more ‘you’ and to realise that ‘you’ do not exists in isolation but exists in a state of inter-being with all of humanity, our planet and our cosmos.

This message is at the heart of my creative practice and a message I feel deep passionate about and want to express as I feel it is a something we very much lack in todays society. However you will have noticed that I do not use the word/symbol mandala to describe my work, unless I am able to discuss in depth my understanding of it. The mandala is commonly associated in the west as a motif from eastern religions or a symbol of 60’s counter culture, which is an unfortunate and naive understanding of it, and I feel that the association detracts from my works message. The mandala affects us predominately from the unconscious and the door to its philosophy remains open- perhaps even more so- without the confused term associated with it. Hence why I simply use the broad term of geometry, this neutral term allows the work to be observed from a blank slate, allowing the mandala to unveil itself.

The mandala manifests itself in many forms and in my exploration of it I have been guided away from its traditional symmetrical structure. On the surface the work is not a classical mandala, however, it is still embedded deep within the work. Selective symmetry is the name I use to refer to the concept behind my compositions, which has its roots in gestalt theory, a field of psychology which regards our modes of perception. Gestalt theory suggest that our brain perceives objects as a whole and not the sum of its individual part, hence how we can see a tree and understand it is a tree without needing to analyse every branch, root and leave. Selective symmetry is where I create areas of symmetry in the overall asymmetric work which allows the mind to unconsciously fill in the gaps of what it believes to be there: the mandala is therefor only present when observed and uniquely constructed in the mind of its viewer. The work creates a dissonance in the mind, the unconscious is aware of and comprehends the works underlying structure, whereas the conscious mind over thinks the geometry puzzling itself: which I find to be symbolic of how our logically focused mind obstructs our intuitive experience of reality. The dissonance created in the mind leads to more engagement with the work, and therefor more time contemplating the mandala and therefor more time exploring the self. To meditate without knowing that you're meditating. I want my work to be a bridge into your internal experience, an opportunity to see yourself for who you truly are.

Awakening To Meaning.

You're experience of the painting is the meaning of the painting as you awaken to the meaning that is already within you.

The works meaning comes from your response and engagement with it: the meaning you find within it is the meaning behind it. The works serves as a mirror of your own mind, would you look into a mirror and then ask what the meaning of the mirror is? There is no meaning for you to attempt to decipher except for that which you project upon it and see within it.

I do feel however my relationship within the work and understanding of it will hopefully reveal ideas about yourself and reality you have not yet considered. The separation between you and I is ultimately an illusion, we are more connected than our ego’s lead us to believe, therefor my understanding of the work will hopefully help you to articulate your own. We are more similar than different and our experience will therefor be more similar than different, yet, we will ruminate on the differences because that’s what we human do, but having an awareness of the differences is a way to experience the uniqueness of your own mind. We all experience the same sun, the sun is universal, but Scotlands experience of the sun is different from Indias or Fiji’s, yet the experience is ultimately the same, only experienced from a different perspective. I aim for my work to be a reflection of our global consciousness, a tangible manifestation of our time in history, viewed through the unique lens of my experience. I strive to be as authentic as possible with my art and therefor cannot fully separate myself and my personal philosophy from it. My work intends to transcend our egos and express universal archetypal themes, present in our collective unconscious, which we can all relate to. Yet regardless of how universal I intend it to be, personal idiosyncrasies will forever be present, my ego was still involved in the making process and will always leave its mark.

I believe we have a shared human experience, a collective unconscious which unites us all. Just like a wave cannot be separated from the ocean, we cannot be separated from each other. We only know ourselves in relation to each other and therefor highlight our slight differences in order to differentiate between us. We argue over the small differences instead of taking a steps back to notice that all the flowers in the garden are of the one garden, our garden just happens to be a bit bigger and called earth. We are one species, one living organism. Just as our brain contains countless neurones working together to create our mind, we are the neurones that work together to create our collective human mind, which is an integral part of the creative universal mind that emanates throughout the cosmos. Our world is a harmonious web of interconnected relations, manifesting itself in various patterns that we can relate with and can call matter: dandelion; salmon; postman; which we perceive as separate, yet they all go together. My geometric composition are composed out of an intricate underlying geometric structure, too complex for our mind to comprehend every individual element, and that is the point, it is symbolic of the complexity of the underlying web of reality which is beyond conventional understanding. Working from this blueprint I create novel shapes within it-the process of selective symmetry previously discussed-, which are all interconnected via its underlying structure, the result is a series of relatable interlocking shapes that we can engage with. We cannot describe one shape without the other, as each shapes defines one another, yet no shape reveals the full truth of the works structure, only an element. The element which we can perceive. The shapes cannot be separated from its foundation as each shape reveals a different aspect of it, just as everything we experience reveals to us a little bit more of the underlying fabric of our reality. The shapes appear separate from our perspective but are an integral part of the work as a whole, all working together to construct and unify the finished painting: just as we are an integral part of the universe as a whole.

Our world as unified whole is a difficult concept to grasp. For something to exist its opposite must also exist. Every front has a back, every inside has an outside and although they appear to be separate, they go together: one cannot exists without the other. We are dualistic thinking beings and our brain is wired to think of self in relation to other, hot in relation too cold and hard in relation too soft. This makes sense to navigate the world, if you are at one with a moving car and do not see the boundaries between you, you’ll probably get hit by the car. We are spirits living a human experience and must respect our current incarnation and the limitations of it. However having an awareness of the deeper unification of our world can change your approach to life and how you experience it. It can allow you to step back from the everyday trivialities of life and appreciate the beauty of existence: an existence which we perceive dualistically, meaning as a spectrum between two opposing poles. Our perception of the world is as a division from a unified whole, and the first division is the creation of opposite: black & white; Yin & Yang; feminine & masculine; chaos & order; everything we perceive is on the spectrum between opposites. The first division is not the only division, it continues indefinitely creating the complexity of the world we experience. Nothing is absolute, as everything always contains both, black always contains white, feminines always contains masculine and vice versa because they are both a part of the unified whole and cannot be entirely separated from it.

Humanity is perhaps the best way to illustrate this, we are divided into two opposites, feminine and masculine, and when we are unified we are blessed with the ultimate form of creation: life. However masculine and feminine energies are not limited to their biology manifestations, we all contain both masculine and feminine qualities within us, regardless of our gender, and the integration of both is what creates the wholeness of our being. Feminine and masculine are synonymous with Yin & Yang, light and dark or any other pair of opposites which you can relate with. The energy of these qualities is more powerful than their biological manifestation in our bodies. All masculine or feminine qualities, however, have both masculine and feminine energies contained within them, and these qualities again have masculine snd feminine elements within them and so the division continues indefinitely. We must be careful not to believe the division we experience to be true, as everything is a dynamic interplay between these forces. We must not seek good or bad as they are subjective, or strive for one absolute over another, we must find acceptance in the fluctuation between them- this is true for everything we experience. This balance between opposites in my work is symbolised by the combination of abstraction- our intuitive, chaotic, Yin qualities- and the geometry- our logical, orderly Yang qualities- and through this combination I seek to find balance. A cosmic dance of the intertwining energies all around us, coming together to compose the unified whole of the painting.

New & Old: A Technological World.

We must embrace and evolve the wisdom of the past to flourish in the present and create a brighter future.

The insights I have discovered within my art are by no means my own but ancient ideas which have been expressed by countless beautiful minds from across the globe. My creative practice is a meditation for me to explore the wisdom of humanity and integrate it into my being. A task easier said than done but with continual practice, the theoretical knowledge slowly transforms into experiential understanding as we can begin to understand the ideas in our own way.

These ancient ideas are again one element of the two opposing forces that compose the painting: old and new. A mandala is a reflection of the traditions and beliefs of the people who made it, using the materials and technologies available to them. A compass and ruler may seem archaic tool to us but there was a time when they were a revolutionary new technology. My work serves to bring balance between the old and new, paying homage to the lineage of human thought that came before us yet still being representative of our present place in history. The painted surface symbolically represents the old, as painting and mark making are age old traditions which have evolved alongside our human evolution. The new is represented by the geometry and the process in which it is created, I am using technologies to create these paintings which were unheard of only 100 years ago. Technology is advancing exponentially, that fast we do no realise it. Consider when the first iPhone was released(2013) in comparison to: when the first phone was invented(1876); or the internet(1960’s); when we first light up our world with artificial light(1879); when we the first recorded written language found(approx 6000 years ago) or when we first decided to leave our mark on a cave wall(38,000 years ago). All of this is a fraction of how long modern humans have been on this planet(100,000 years) which pails in comparison to the age of our earth(4.5 billions years) or our universe as a whole (13.8 billion year). When our grandchildren reflect back on our time it’ll be remembered as a time of radical technological advancement, however, our cutting edge technology will be as archaic to them as a wired landline phone is to us. As the world advances technologically our necessity to know and understand ourselves becomes more vital, so we use technology fruitfully rather than destructively.

I use technology to create my digital compositions before using more technology to cut my compositions for me- far quicker and more accurately than I could dream of doing myself. Yet, I find it vitally important that technology is only an aspect of the work, a tool which I use to realise my ideas and not the art itself. I always want the human element of the work to be present which can be found in the gestural brush marks, the uneven edges and the embraced imperfections, which contrast with the precision of the laser cutter. My paintings cannot be separated from or created without technology. Yet technology is not new, we confuse the term technology with our ‘latest innovations.’ Fire, wheels, language, art, meditation, paintbrushes and traffic lights are all technologies we have created to share and express ideas and to help us navigate life on earth.

With our technology we create the environment of our own evolution, we evolve in response to our technology and we create more technology in response which again further effects our evolution. We are in a continual creative evolutionary dialogue with our technology. We build technology using the technology of our ancestors and no one truly knows what direction it is headed, as it is not one individual creating it, it is our collective human intelligence. We grow just an a flower does, with the innate knowledge of being a human within us but we grow in response to the artificial surroundings of our own creation. We are in a symbiotic relationship with our technology, simultaneously creating and being created by it. We must bring awareness to this process as we are gifted with the opportunity to expand our human experience, our understanding and appreciation of the world and our place within it. Technology is an extension of who we are and we must use it to embrace rather than escape reality. Technology is like a spice, just the right amount amount and it’ll greatly enhance the meal but too much spice and it can very quickly overwhelm and ruin the meal. My works asks us to consider ourselves, to know ourselves in relation to technology, to bring awareness to the ways it is shaping our understanding of who we are so that it can enhance the meal of life rather than overwhelm it. To use rather than be used by it. To enrich our connection to ourselves, each other and our planet rather than further separate us from it. To use our technology and creative practices to work towards, in the words of Charles Eisenstein, ‘The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.’

Finding Purpose Through Art.

With art we can envision a more beautiful world

and together we create it.

Art is a deeply personal journey and therefor we all have different answers for what art is, the ever-changing definition of art is perhaps what makes it so appealing. It’s mysterious and elusive and open for interpretation. The point of art is that we can create our own experience of it, it is accessible and available to all. I am not here discussing the art world but art as an all encompassing expression of our human imagination, a manifestation of our intrinsic human experience. An effort to give form to the formless. Art is a way to make the invisible visible and through this visual interpretation we can explore parts of our psyche previously unknown to us: making the unconscious conscious through the making of imagery. Arts definition evolves alongside humanities artistic output, and as we expand the boundaries of art we simultaneously expand the boundaries of its definition. Art expands, blurs and simultaneously defines boundaries, it is as paradoxical as the nature of our existence. Trying to define art is like trying to define our consciousness, as the two are intrinsically linked. Art is an expression of our conscious experience, if we were not conscious we could not create art. Consciousness and art are both an entirely subjective experience, not one can be logically defined, we are conscious and therefor cannot analyse it objectively. Through our art we can understand our conscious state and therefor analyse our conscious experience and by analysing humanities collective artistic output we can understand our collective human experience. The art of a time is not only a reflection of the artist who created it but the time and place of its creation, for art to be accepted by part of the whole means that is has captured universal themes present within society. Art is a step out into the unknown, delving ever deeper into our collective unconscious. The artist is in service to humanity, exploring their own psyche and in turn our collective psyche. Exploring the mysteries of the unknown and attempting to translate and make sense of it.

Art is where I feel most at home, most connect, most whole and most myself. Life makes sense in a state of creation. I have been blessed with the freedom and ability to create and share my art. It is a gift and also a responsibility. The creative mind is both a blessing and a curse but when nurtured can greatly enrich our experience and understanding of ourselves and the world. Art is what I can offer to the world, it is my gift to humanity. Creation is where I find meaning in life, and my purpose is to share art with the world, to elevate and awaken our consciousness one person and one painting at a time. To bring love and beauty to our experience and awaken the love and beauty within us. To share the potential of what our world could as we envision a world where we are connected by love and not divided by fear: unified over a shared story of a more beautiful world. Art is where we can envision that world and together we can bring it into being.

Thank you for allowing me to share my art with you, together we can not only envision but create a more beautiful world

Lewis Deeney

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