HELIOTROPE, Christopher Cutts Gallery, 10 SEP-30 SEP 2015
Derrida concludes in ‘White Mythology’: “metaphor means [veut dire] heliotrope, both a movement turned toward the sun and the turning movement of the sun”, (“WM”, 251).
In constructing the paintings of this show Andrew Rucklidge worked over the past two summers in a small tool shed in Go Home Bay, Georgian Bay, very much in and out of the elements and the sun. First and foremost in his conception of the paintings was an attempt to find a visual equivalent of the stumping of the sun, so beautifully described by Derrida, in terms of turning planes. The idea was to attempt a visual language where planes would alternate between full sunlit, backlit, eclipsed and shaded. In their superimposition he hoped to create some of the essence of the heliotrope in a turning, pulling and bent distortion of the planes and a distressed figure ground relationship.
At another more literal level, he linked the paintings and their divergent formal arrangements with the use of trace amounts of the transparent colour Heliotrope throughout the work. Used in such minute quantities as to likely not affect the final visual balance of the paintings, he found the idea of a fugitive or stowaway colour was an excellent trope for the creation of a group of seemingly unlinked works. He is not sure why this colour asserted itself to me for this role; to be honest my use of hues from the indigo and purple spectrum in paintings has usually been minimal. That said, starting a painting with a foil is a great way in. The irony here is that more recently he discovered that throughout ancient and mediaeval history, Heliotrope or Bloodstone, seemed to be ascribed almost every magical healing quality under the sun. With such charged cultural connections and assertions, could this stowaway colour be the key to healing paintings internally?
Truth be told, when the colour asserted itself in the painting, my reaction was to eradicate it almost fully, as if shielding my eyes from the sun when exiting a darkened room. At some level these paintings became the product of my antagonistic orbit around this deep amethyst hue. Would he have been so ruthless with it, had he been more aware of its supernatural healing properties that culturally persist as intangible stowaways into the modern age? Yes, the fugitive colour fanned the metaphorical flames of painting as combat. Heliotrope is so full of charged energetic associations, metaphorical and cultural, that tenor and vehicle, figure and ground, must do battle in the picture plane, must turn towards and away from each other.