The Days Run Away | Ian Friend

The Days Run Away | Ian Friend

November 13, 2021 - December 4, 2021

Time and time again, the artist performs his introductions: the paper is invited to the soaking; the media are invited to find their way across and into the surface of the substrate, spilling and soaking, hovering, pooling, then succumbing. The water and the residue part company, the forms take their presence on the page. The artist brokers these relationships. He alters and adjusts. He makes suggestions of his own, then introduces another layer of possibilities.

And with such slow progress, the image arises.

The contexts. Ian Friend talks to me of his exile; of his sustained sentiment for those lush grasslands running above the chalky substrates of East Sussex Downs. He speaks also of the music of northern hemispheres and of the literature from places I left behind long ago.

The images. In Friend’s works these have been variously described as windows; as auditory membranes; as acknowledgements of architecture; as responses to literature and to life itself. These fluid expanses of muted muteness invite interpretations of liminality. The equivocal nature of their forms insinuates processes of becoming as well as those of dissolution.

The forms. But if the material being of Friend’s works are considered as forms rather than images – as thin slices of matter – they exist as the physical evidence of a process whereby a separation has been persuaded.

One where, in its hungry rush to reach the paper substrate; in its primal drive to enter the veins and capillaries of its fibrous weft, fluid-carrying-pigment floods towards the soaking, and in so doing abandons its heavier loads at the surface, where they settle in stains, or accrue in thin crusts.

It is possible, thereby, to apprehend Friend’s works three dimensionally, as wafers evidencing process, as paper pigment membranes through which entities enter and exit. And the artist too is complicit – is part of this process, where the will towards creation is counterpointed by the drive towards dissolution.

The artist. Recently, the artist too has experienced a compressed sequence of moving-between-stages – of life; of materiality; of passages of existence. He’s passed through them and from them and this current return to the old pathways and processes of his art practice is marked by altercations and adjustments to his perception and apprehension. The thresholds between two realities are all-too-often-wafer-thin.

To describe Friend’s work as liminal, calls on a term that draws from the Latin ‘limens’ or threshold. It describes things, states of being, consciousness, that exist in that zone of transition through which possibilities leach in both directions. Friend’s work draws from his life to call witness to his own abiding, abundant wonderment at the miraculous potential in everyday rites of passage.

Pat Hoffle AM
November 2020