WHO AM I? Standing in the midst of this thought traffic?”
“When one sense perceives the hidden
The invisible world becomes apparent to the whole.”
Rumi (Persian Muslim Poet and Sufi Mystic, 1207-1273)
Ancient wisdom traditions urge spiritual conversion towards the inner self and a higher state of being. Exploration of one’s spiritual interior leads to self-discovery and deeper truths about the cosmos and ultimate Reality beyond it. There is an alignment of microcosm and macrocosm; an alignment of human nature and the “universe” writ large. A wanderer, a contemplative, a philosopher, and now a painter, I have pursued this very journey for some thirty years.
“To be an artist is not a matter of making paintings or objects at all.What we are really
dealing with is our state of consciousness and the shape of our perceptions.
Robert Irwin (American Installation Artist, 1928-)
A Professor of Philosophy, I have worked and taught in higher education for twenty-five years. My areas of specialization include ancient Greek and medieval philosophy; Eastern philosophies; women philosophers; animal ethics; and philosophy of art. A 2005 sabbatical leave was key in my development as a Philosopher-Artist. While doing philosophy research, I became aware of vibrant abstract images accumulating in my mind’s eye. These subconscious or pre-conscious images were stacking up one upon the other, and each image seemed to be in a holding pattern awaiting release. A self-taught artist, I began painting in acrylic on large scale canvases. Since then, I have continued to evolve as a self-taught, exhibited, and marketable abstract expressionist painter. My artistic vision is inspired by reflections on Nature, solitude, spiritual interiority, and the moral actualization of the self found in both 20th c. Abstract Expressionism (Wassily Kandinsky; Robert Motherwell) and 19th c. New England Transcendentalism (Henry David Thoreau). I am also drawn to early modernist and abstract expressionist painters (e.g.) Delaunay-Terk; Mirό; Gorky; Klee; and Olitski.
“‘Realism’ has been abandoned in the search for Reality:
The ‘principal objective’ of abstract art is precisely this Reality.”
Ben Nicholson (British Abstract Painter, 1894-1982)
The very process of abstract expressionist painting entails interiority and self-exploration. For me, the painting process is completely intuitive and spontaneous. There can be no advance deliberation or pre-planning. I discover the palette, formal elements, design’s orientation, and movement only the moment I stand before the canvas. I rest my eyes on the blank canvas until it responds. At times, the canvas is like a mirror. It reflects my gaze back inward and an image surfaces from remote regions within my consciousness. At other times, its quiet emptiness opens up like a portal and summons me through to a place of diaphanous images, one of which eventually comes forward. As I paint and the image unfolds, I gently monitor the congruence of the image on the canvas with that initial vision. The immediacy and spontaneity of abstract expressionist painting are evident in my technique which is alla prima with wet-in-wet blending of paint. I often feather out the brushstrokes to obscure my own hand and to avoid the noisiness of obvious marks. Vehicles for introspection, my paintings aim to jostle the viewer’s consciousness and evoke emotive states within the viewer.
Generally, my artistic forms, design, and compositions fall into two styles. Lyrical Abstraction: Many images are completely non-objective (non-representational). These free form abstractions are spontaneous, intuitive, introspective, enigmatic, and elusive. Not infrequently, these free form paintings “read” from the lower left to far upper right (i.e., from the past to the near future) and from bottom to top (i.e., from the empirical-material to the essential-spiritual). Linear Abstraction: Other images are curvilinear, patterned, and geometric. With such linear expressionism, crisply delineated strokes allow me to paint more intentionally; to articulate discrete forms with precision and control; and to expand my nascent system of narrative symbols. By exploring the delineation of planes, I draw the viewer into a much greater depth of field. The versatility of linear expressionism, sense of spatiality, and provocative palettes of contrasting intensity, value and temperature help me render – in form and color – abstract, philosophical ideas.
“One must really be engaged in order to be a painter.
Once obsessed by it, one eventually gets to the point where one thinks
that humanity could be changed by painting.”
Gerhard Richter (German Painter, 1932-)
Away from the canvas, my “spiritual eye” instinctually abstracts pure forms and spare, essential lines from the flow of the land; natural forms and designs (in water, shells, vegetation); cloud formations; flowing fabric; sculpture, architecture; dance movement, athletic movement; and even the sound of music. I naturally gravitate to the formal unity underlying multiplicity, to the spiritual beyond the material. My spiritual-aesthetic awareness has expanded and deepened as a result of my immersion in Abstract Expressionism and New England Transcendentalism. I will continue to blur the boundaries of analytic and creative thought in my practice of the life of the mind. I wish to emulate for my students the inherent value of living life as a meaningful journey of exploration and discovery.
Dr. Lisa Esposito (2015)