Jon Cattapan’s ‘All The Gods Seen From Here’ presents a new body of work that continues the artist’s enquiry into the constantly evolving relationship between topographies and contemporary art-marking. The artist states: “I have used a recent visit to Siracusa, Sicily, and an ancient cave known as ‘The Ear of Dionysius’ as a starting point for this exhibition. It is said that Dionysius, the Tyrant of Siracusa (5th century BCE), held his prisoners in this cave and, with its perfect acoustic resonance, was able to hear what was said as the sounds rose from below. My curiosity, piqued by Siracusa’s extraordinary Neapolis site, has taken me back further to Greek mythology, exploring not the tyrant Dionysius but the godDionysus, brother of Apollo. The intertwined duality of Apollo and Dionysus can be understood (simply) as Apollo representing ordered restraint and Dionysus representing unrestrained inspiration. “Apollonian” and “Dionysian” are terms used by Friedrich Nietzsche in ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ to designate this central duality of creativity.
I have likewise come to see my own creative language as lying somewhere within the visual tussle between expressive intuitive painterliness and tight punctuated layers. This body of work is not about direct representations of a cave per se, or gods for that matter. Instead, the inspiration of this place and related mythology has spring boarded my art and thinking straight to our unstable times: to order versus chaos; to conflict versus peace; to analogue versus digital; to the human hand versus media tools; to abstract gesture versus articulated narrative. And to the continuing mysteries of what it is to make a painting in 2023. Those mysteries will be revealed sometime soon. But then again, maybe not.”
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