TRANSCENDENTAL TRANQUILITY : DIRK ROSEPORT at GRAZE GALLERY interviewed by Sarah J Lloyd
SJL: Dirk, can I ask you to say something first about whats important to you as an artist, and what you’d like people to know about the work?
DR: Sure, yes, I can say that Im always surfing the edge between photography and painting.My concern is with creating the tableau, before which people can encounter rhythms of reality. Many people said that the work creates a space where they lose themselves, where their stress drops away and they deeply relax. And that is a strong reason why I make this work also, because this is what happens to me in the process of making it. I get up at crazy hours to do shoots, like 4am in the dark of December in bad weather, and then get totally absorbed in the process of attending to the moments where the work appears, four, six hours can go by like ten minutes in this, and I suddenly realise I’ve completely disappeared into the making process.
SJL: So it sounds almost similar to the centering, absorption process that happens in meditation. Why ocean though, what is water for you, and why do you think water and sky are so compelling for you as an artist?
DR: I think it’s that thing that we come from the water, so somehow its a way to return to this deeper state. Taking everything superfluous out is for me the basis of good design, and it returns me to this simpler state in myself. So I strip the making process back to three elements, sky, water, horizon.The immensity of sky and water seems to generate states of calm where what feels troublesome in the psyche drops away. Then interestingly later, after the slowness, we start projecting thoughts onto the tableau again. Our brains seem to tolerate only so much emptiness, before they push to return us to something familiar, and this is often when the water seems to move again, especially in the ‘Turmoil’ pieces, where the horizon is lost and there is only reflected light. It’s really fascinating how many people have this response. And Im not trying to steer anyone in any particular direction.
SJL: I looked at all the work on your website last night, and found myself thinking also of Vija Celmins, Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin, all artists very concerned with inner life. Martin especially described in detail this stripping back of self when she went to draw in the desert. She too was dealing with awe and absorption in immensity, and what happens to our sense of relationality next to that, but she chose barren, dry desert to lose herself in and a strong buddhist meditation practice. Its interesting that for you its water and more an absorption in the active making.
DR: Im not a professor so I dont try to explain everything, but I think everyone of us is attracted to water. So sea, horizon and sky comes out of this need I have to strip things back to essential elements and return myself to a sense of origin.
SJL: And why do you choose the particular locations?
DR: I research obviously the light and whether there is a harbour or an island nearby, because then there are too many ships. But more than that, the location is not really the point. The point is this entering of another space of awareness and honouring that by not manipulating the image in any way. I don’t do any photoshop on my work. What is captured by the camera when I release the shutter is what is printed. Everything one sees, is done in the camera..
I use the camera as a completely experimental tool there, breaking every rule there is about light and exposure technicalities, because if I was concerned with all that, I would be shooting postcards only. But working in this very open intuitive way, everything is unique each time, I am not trying to capture it in that old fashioned sense, but am in living connection with it.
You know, in the beginning I called the project “painting oceans”, playing on the tension between photography and painting. But it turned out that the audience expected to see a series of paintings. When they discovered that it was a series of photos, they thought my work was photoshopped. There is, however, no manipulation whatsoever in my work. All the images are the result of the unconventional use of the camera. I challenge conventions and paint with the camera.
SJL: Yes thats so interesting, I can see that narrative ideas about location would be completely irrelevant if your concern is with inner life and the painterly territory on the edges of perception, the real point is this access and entrance into liminal interiority in the presence of immense landscapes.Thankyou so much for your time today Dirk.
More work can be seen on his website: http://www.dirkroseport.com/
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