the essence of its presence
“YUGEN” GLENYS MANN
EAST GIPPSLAND ART GALLERY, BAIRNSDALE
5 MAY – 12 JUNE 2023
YUGEN A profound awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.
The exact translation of the word depends on the context. Yūgen is not an allusion to another world. It is about this world, this experience…
I had no idea about the ‘aesthetics’ of this word, until I read more about the context.
I never knew why, when out in the deep desert of the Rann in NW India, on a mountain on the South Island of NZ, standing in my back yard and feeling the fog settle on my face..
To watch the sun, sink behind a straight horizon. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a bird that disappears into the distance.
Why did the tears flow…
Why was it that I could not stop this overwhelming amazing emotion that grips me every time I am faced with some extraordinary beauty that I do not understand.
Just how do you put this into your art practice.
I had to think about all of this as I started to work on the next exhibition that I had planned in April 2020 to have in May 2023.
This thought sat with me as we all grappled with a pandemic and were otherwise distracted… but still… the power of Yugen was beating at me to try and put this into my work.
I went into the bush near my home, after a massive storm had blown over many trees, just the sight of these large giants laying on there side was sad enough but what stirred me more was the fact that they had stood longer than I had been on this earth and suddenly did not have the strength to stand any longer.
I took all of this to heart and decided to wrap these large giants with soft bandage like gauze to see if there was a way to extract from their bodies some indication that they had not stood for this long without a purpose.
Gently folding the cloth around their form, I left them to see if there was anything that they could give to set my mind into making pieces for this exhibition.
They laid wrapped from July 2021 – late January 2023… the cloth a little worse for wear as the weather battered them as they lay protecting their giant.
What was left was an extraordinary cloth, unique in its own right and a gift from the fallen tree for me to gather and see how I can make these pieces exude the feeling that is Yugen… to bring the viewer into its realm by quietly taking time to sit and absorb these huge pieces of mended, stained, torn, dirty cloth. To be in the moment by just sitting and putting yourself into the stillness that brings all emotions to the surface.
It is not wrong that we cry. It is like a balm to the soul, helps with the healing or putting us in a place that we could find very confronting but knowing that the emotions are for something other than sadness.
Nature is seen as a dynamic whole that is to be admired and appreciated.
This appreciation of nature has been fundamental to my art aesthetic and other cultural elements for as long as I have been making.
But never on the level that it is at the moment, that brings with it a powerful reaction within my soul and my emotions.
Yugen: A profound awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.
Yugen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art. It values the power to evoke, rather than the ability to state directly.
The principle of Yugen shows that real beauty exists when, through its suggestiveness, only a few words, or few stitches can suggest what has not been said or shown, and hence awaken many inner thoughts and feelings.
Glenys Mann 2023
Daniel Jenkins @ Yugen his opening address…
Glenys writes, YUGEN is a profound awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.
Yet we use words to define the essence of the undefinable. As artists we know this inherently. Yet still we are asked and expected to make words for the wordless.
We are expected to define an emotion when it is still an infant idea, somehow make a feeling tangible. We act in our studios on the spur of the moment and turn away silently and let the creative process begin.
‘what are you going to make next?’ they ask… and then the idea dissipates because we’re expected to put parameters on a thought. Glenys appears to show that the thought comes back a bit later, when no one’s asking and she’s not necessarily looking,
As she explains it is expected that a fallen tree wanted to be draped. So it was. And she waited. It was a controlled wait, patient, excited and undefined.
In our respective art practices few of us know what is next, what to expect. Too many words can be the enemy in the creative process. The words can come later.
Glenys and I sat one day at the ‘gingerbread house’ over a cuppa that she demanded. I’m a terrible host, I rarely get visitors. The idea was to come up with nice things to say tonight. We hardly touched on the initial intent of the meeting and just went off on our respective tangents of story telling as we have often done.
I had a notebook that I felt was overly conspicuous, like I knew what I was doing. Or had to do for tonight. No idea. But in our ebb and flow of on-topic, odd topic, l I managed to write down a few words that I thought would be pertinent, if not definitive…. Or at least expected.
Lockdown… Every artist’s utopic friend to one degree or another. A good time to think guilt free, like we were actually working. Doodle with a passion while no one’s looking.
“four inch nails” a kind a measuring stick as a solution.
Arsenic… it is almost impossible to make art without venturing into some degree of danger. In our studio we have cyanide and lead acetate. Many years ago a colleague spoke at a danger-free conference of artists in Kyoto and said, in her medium safety was an intentional coincidence. That we sometimes have to bleed for our art.
The stories we could tell…..
What is difficult for some can be easy for artists and what is hard for artists is almost inexplicable for others not in the game.
Artist understands things… we see the unseen…
Glenys see an essence.
Deep thinking is a silent practice. Don’t just relate, be taken. But there is no need to be profound… there is always, however, the need to provoke… the need to evoke…
It is always important to place the physicality of the art in comparison to the essence of the presence.
In this exhibition Glenys has put it to you to look into the works…
not just at them…
and listen to what these works have to say.
8/5/2023 08:08:09 am
Glenys Mann’s Yugen article confirmed, to me, in words the
8/5/2023 03:30:21 pm
Such a profound concept Glenys, simplicity and strength in harmony...
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Notes that catch my thoughts, dribbles, splashes, spills, drips, words, and other detritus, as I work my way thru journals and blogs that have kept me occupied during an unusual time in all of our lives...