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Exhibition of Abstract Paintings
by Anne Maire Dowdican
6th - 26th June 2003

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Opening Speech by Mavis Thomson, A.R.U.A

Exhibition Notes

"Art points to life and life - a good life - must contemplate gigantic things."

That's just one of those Dowdican statements that stuck like a chicken bone in my brain ten years ago and still has me trying to dislodge it from my conscience. Read that statement again and I will tell you that this philosophy captures the essential nature of her.

Becoming human, becoming real... appreciating the simplicity yet the complexity of the littlest of things: a washing line, a field, a seagull winging its way over the cold white furls of a wave... Dowdican fell in love with life a long time ago and that love affair still consumes her. Through music, literature, film and the work of other visual artists she feeds her passion, rejoices in what she sees; knows both the ecstasy and the grief which exposure to the 'real' must inevitably bring. There is a yearning in her work, a visual parallel to a musical composition that aches to reach its crescendo. A searching also, a path that is paced for days, for years; without a sun setting to call any of those days to rest.

Anna Marie scrunched up her face when I asked her whether she still stood by what she wrote ten years ago when she stated that "art points to life and life - a good life -must contemplate gigantic things."

"It's not that l don't believe it any more," she replied almost embarrassed, "it's just that sometimes what must be contemplated is far from gigantic. It is often the smallest particle of life that holds the greatest wonder, the element of the miraculous."

"Nowadays," she said, "I just paint because I simply enjoy the nature of paint and I think that's what I'm trying to get to - simplicity. Creation - and all it holds- inspires me. The work of other artists also; their enthusiasm, their passion, discipline, all those things fire me up. Particularly music; every exhibition I've ever worked on has been accompanied in part by some composer's imagery. This show is largely co-created with Philip Glass - in particular his Violin Concertos, and the score for 'The Hours'. His work possesses that simplicity that I strive to achieve in the visual. I suppose as an artist, indeed as a human being, I see it as important to lay oneself right open to life, to absorb it and to allow the work of people in other fields to seep into me. Life should not be a half-mast experience."

There is a cyclical unity between one art medium and another. Just as water can present itself in its various forms so creativity can he inter-related through a variety of forms, Anna Marie Dowdican is aware of being just one individual in an ever-evolving cycle of artistic voices; "I am drawn to the different lives, philosophies and worlds that words on a page can convey. Characters reveal their story and ours, even an uninhabited landscape has inherent character, has absorbed the good and bad that has been done to it."

She takes these and other concerns to the canvas. There are layers within layers. As she puts it herself, "always more fragments fluttering down to confuse an issue that I felt I had a rock solid stance on."

In any artists life, these fragments need a mixing bowl; a storehouse where they can be processed. Dowdican's visual work somehow is a result of all of this. It is a glimpse into the artist's journey; revealing simultaneously the peeling back of soul, the raw exposure to life and the arts and the building up of layers of paint. Minute cells of colour, shimmering textures of exquisitely applied paint, compositions that dance towards abstraction yet tauntingly bring us back to places and emotions half-remembered. Her paintings have an extraordinary energy. They pulsate with every moment that went into them, whispering melodies in colour, almost seeming to hum a universal tune.

The artist can be a lighthouse keeper, dispersing a light over treacherous waters, calling us home to a sense of peace, our long-sought harbour. Let your eyes and mind absorb the work of Anna Marie Dowdican and see just how far your journey may bring you. Have a visual adventure in paint.

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