My old “Black Hole Binary system” painting…

Size of canvas approximately: 51 cm x 40.5 cm, medium: regular and fluorescent acrylics. I have already shown this painting previously but am re-posting it with some minor changes I needed to make – and also because I would like to keep it in my portfolio… Although I finished this painting in 2018, I completed most of it before I first joined the IAAA in late 2017, which is very significant because up until then I had no access to any kind of feedback from other (vastly more experienced and developed) space artists. So I was relying very much on feedback from local friends and members of the public, most of whom knew either very little to nothing at all about astronomy/astronomical phenomena; this presented a very significant challenge in painting a black hole binary system that they could recognise or perceive in context, since they were in most cases completely unfamiliar with the general visual characteristics of the subject matter. My aim is also to share this subject with those less familiar because it offers a sense of wonder and mystery integral to this life and reminds us what is so easily forgotten when the mind becomes very retracted or inward looking and we stop being curious; I know because I have lost it before and found it again and even something so familiar and ordinary as simply seeing the Moon after three years of hard study on my art degree, forgetting to ever look up at night, suddenly takes on a deeply ineffable quality… Something very curious happens when people are greeted by a representation of something very unfamiliar to them, although I can also attribute some of this to my swirly abstract way of painting it: They either feel very unsure what they are looking at or, the mind accesses its memory inventory of previous experiences and makes a visual association with something else, such as a “protoplasm”, etc, etc, etc. Initially I tried to resist this tendency by adding more and more visual clues that this is a painting about outer space, instead of simply leaving the painting alone as a finished piece; I kept feeling like it was something I wasn’t painting clearly enough and it needed “more” but this only succeeded in a runaway insecurity that caused me to completely overload the composition. I have since learned from this, and from previous feedback from the IAAA, that I need to let go and just paint the subject directly. This experience also shows perhaps how closely tied or dependent our perception of form is on the language through which we experience the world; name and form not being separate. As in other paintings featuring fluorescent acrylics, there is again an inspiration to convey a feeling of inexhaustible energy, animating all phenomena; that the artwork itself is of this nature, not separate…

Published by

Roger Jarvis

I am an emerging artist based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, in the United Kingdom. I produce landscape paintings from a home studio, primarily in acrylics but also occasionally in oils and watercolours as well. My interest to begin producing paintings on the subject of astronomy in the last several years has partially arisen from a father-son interest going back to my early years; as a teenager, my father would treat me to views of the planets, such as Mars, Jupiter and Saturn through his telescope, as well as the Ring Nebula and Andromeda galaxy. However, once I left college to study in Fine Art at Southampton Solent University, student life soon took over and my adolescent enthusiasm for astronomy took a back seat. For at least three years, longer in fact, I all but forgot that the night sky existed and seldom ever looked up; my entire universe shrank down to university life and even the Moon became a stale and distant concept lurking somewhere in the back of my head. The stars and celestial bodies of our Solar System arced across the great firmament above, rolling around the dark dome of the night sky for more than a thousand daily cycles, just out of sight and mind… A few years after I graduated in 2006 and during my five year artist residency at the Arches Studios in Southampton, a friend contacted me one day with great enthusiasm, to tell me all about an exciting new BBC television series called “Wonders of the Solar System” with Professor Brian Cox. Many things I forgot I learned about as a boy came bubbling back to the surface. As my interest was rekindled, it crept into my artwork and paved the way for everything that would follow and everything yet to come; in the space of a few years, robotic space exploration seemed to be exploding in a way that I had not really experienced when I was younger. Never before in my life has this sense of wonder and fascination been elevated to such heights as it is right now; I am convinced that I could not have chosen a better time to begin to engage in this subject. To coincide with this feeling, I have now discovered a whole movement in space and astronomical art that I previously had no awareness of and which is perfectly appropriate to my new direction in landscape painting; this is all thanks to an announcement made at my local astronomy club about an exhibition of space art at the Wells & Mendip Museum in Somerset in 2017, which I attended. It answers my calling and shows me an avenue through which I can begin to creatively channel my interest in the exploration of the universe. I now join the IAAA to seek guidance on how I can learn more about astronomical art in general and to seek feedback on my work to explore ways in which I can develop ideas and visual concepts, for which the IAAA is uniquely suited. Finding out about this association, the only one of its kind, is an extremely fortuitous turn of fate I could never have hoped for or anticipated in a billion years. The universe has opened a valuable opportunity, for which I cannot be grateful enough. My aim is to use the ideas I develop through my paintings, with the support of the IAAA, to invigorate my objective, which is to share the wonder and fascination of the cosmos with other like minded people and to help breathe the presence of astronomy into local art exhibitions in the Forest of Dean, where there is usually none to be seen. In this way my goal is to help inspire more people in my locality to take a greater interest in the exploration and wonder of the universe in which we live and, in art inspired by our final frontier…

This artwork is copyright © Roger Jarvis. All rights reserved.