Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Abstract art isn't always easy to understand. Sometimes it's not about "getting it" but experiencing it. For the last couple of years James C.E. Lightle's paint pours have been part abstract, part representational -- lots of landscapes, experiments in controlling the medium to create images from trees to birds -- but for the last few months his work has focused on the life of the sun.
"We're connected with the sun," says James. "The sun -- the original god before the spoken word."
His recent paintings -- lines and swirls poured on a blue-black background -- are studies in how the sun's actions and inactions affect our moods. The sun's raw unadulterated power has a subliminal but profound effect on both our mental and physical health.
In recent months the Earth has been feeling the effects of what is called a "grand solar minimum", a time when the sun is basically asleep. There are no sunspots, no solar flares, and this low solar intensity is associated with increased cosmic ray intensity levels, lower ultraviolet radiation, and the sun's magnetic field flips its pole. It's a lot of geek speak, for sure, but these phenomena are at the heart of James' recent paintings.
James is happy to talk about "gravitational pulls" and "cosmic plasma", theories based on research by Nobel prize winning physicist Hannes Alfven. Alfven researched electromagnetic fields and their effect on the Earth and its inhabitants, concluding that the "metagalaxy" is far more influential than gravity. He came up with the term "the plasma universe", plasma being the result of the heating up of atoms splitting into free ions and electrons.
Back to the sun and its governance over us. Because of the existence of cosmic plasma, when the solar cycle ebbs and flows it has a profound effect on our health. Right now the sun's magnetic poles have flipped. This weakens solar activity and causes a weakening of the sanitizing effect of ultraviolet rays.
And you know what happens when there are fewer ultraviolet rays? Pandemics. NASA actually predicted a solar minimum to occur in April, 2020 for about six months.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled art discussion. James' paintings explore all of this phenomena. Large works such as "Arc", "Splitting", "Moving Poles", "What's Your Orbit?" take on cosmic movement. The very nature of paint pours lends itself beautifully to this -- varying colours, blends, flows, puddles, eddies, lines. Nothing is fixed. Energy waves.
James Lightle's cosmic art explorations are on hand at Round Hill Studio's Annapolis Royal gallery. Take a look at them up close. There is a whole universe to discover.
(Paintings above from top to bottom -- "Arc" $320, "What's Your Orbit?" $350, "Splitting" $320, and "Moving Poles" $400.)