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Artists Statement | Sharon Thompson

The instinctive feeling that there is indeed some kind of spirit that rolls through all things, some fearsome memory in stones, in wind, in the lives of birds---.

Tim Winton, Australian novelist, from Dirt Music, p 329

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Embodying Space and Light

You are not in the world; the world is in you.”

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That

My purpose in painting is to embody space and light and thereby bring
into focus the sense of presence. This sense of presence, which is
the essence of all living forms, enables us to know connection and

I have drawn inspiration from the landscape painters, JMW Turner,
Claude Monet, and Emily Carr, each of whom had a painter’s
understanding that the world exists inside oneself, and all of whom
had a deep understanding of ‘presence’ in painting. It is
however the American abstract painter Mark Rothko who pointed the
direction for me.

Despite the relatively abstract nature of their work, Turner, Monet and Carr
were all committed landscape painters. Rothko, however, through his
pure abstraction, forces us back into ourselves to realize light and
space as inside rather than outside. Presenting this realization in
the form of art is revolutionary, though it has been known within the
world’s mystical traditions for centuries.

Despite our mutual commitment to space and light in the making of abstract
art, I differ from Rothko by incorporating physicality and flow
based on the use of line. Rothko focuses on a pure sense of light
and space. The flow of line in my work brings movement and
connection, a sense that life is completely interconnected. The
texture of the paint, and the sand that I sometimes include, bring
physicality, groundedness and an intuitive sense of being present in
the moment. When we know flow and the physicality of being just
completely in the moment, we are at home in, and connected to, the
whole universe. This connectedness is the heart of my painting.

I begin my paintings with bold shapes and colour, and through a process of
distillation and destruction, driven by a need for simplicity and essence,
I arrive at the physical sensual energy which lies behind and beneath.
Interestingly, this emphasis on what lies behind and beneath always
results in a painting that is light filled and spatial as well as
physical. This is an unconscious result arising from the inner drive
to get to the bare bones. Painting this way is a dance which requires
letting go of preconception in favour of listening to ‘inner
knowing’ of what to do next.

My intention is to enable the experience that space and light are
real and within each of us.

Sharon Thompson