Stones on the Beach

This exhibition evolved mainly from left-over resin from the making of my more considered and conceptual pieces.

Often the resin was already hardening and left little time to think and simply required direct action to be made. Soon this apparent incidental process formed into a series of making rituals that reflected subject matter subconsciously drawn from experience and memory.

This spontaneous means to externalise my imagination and emotional life presented its own narrative and direction.

In my own research and interest into Physics and in particular the first principles of Sculpture and Metaphysics, these works mirror through their manifestations knowledge of Painting and Sculpture that share the same universe, some of these examples are set out in this exhibition.

I have always been interested in metaphor and know that most art depends on this to provide poetic insights into the complexities of life's experience: so the title 'Stones on the Beach' serves äs a metaphor engaging the notion of chance and/or fate within the dance of existence in which art attempts to fix the unfixable.

In my work the female body and round forms of fruit, pebbles, planets, cells and stars have connections beyond their formal three-dimensional similarities, and at their root have a universal and fundamental emotional meaning for both a personal and collective understanding.

The beach presents time and place in which the forces of nature and the laws of Physics combine to produce patterns of seeming logic, order and consequence. Such forces allow materials and matter to be processed through the activity of art and to be elevated to the Status of language and meaning. In this way the work forms a means to reconcile the apparent divided nature of life, and attempts to record such revelations into the eternal present.

Roland Piché


To those familiär with the work of Roland Piché this exhibition may come äs a surprise. It is ostensibly two dimensional, and at first sight has little affinity with previous work exhibited throughout a distinguished and varied career. This exhibition is not a retrospective. It is an absorbing and intriguing presentation of previously unseen work revealing yet another dimension of an artist whose devotion to tradition and insight into the classical ideal is matched by a continued and undiminished investigation into alternative, yet synthesised life forces. Interest in, and study of, the classical is enriched by a greater emphasis on the Dionysian and on the romantic. the spontaneous, the arbitrary, and above all the vital role played by chance. A force which operates inexorably and with impunity through our supposed ordered universe.

Piché's continued fascination with the reconciliation of apparent opposites led to a study of metaphysics and this has influenced and enriched both his teaching and his art. Much of his work references the history of ideas before science, the arts and philosophy parted Company. Newton offered his discoveries to astronomers and philosophers, Kant combined philosophy with the natural sciences but thereafter the equation of philosophy with a scientific world was rapidly discarded. By the nineteenth Century Max Weber had decisively divided culture into science, morality and art. Thereafter attention was focused on the introspection of the consciousness and the psychological.

Hannah Arendt has observed that this marked the beginning of pessimism, but that it did not Signal the obsolescence of philosophy. She wrote, "Whatever is authentic possesses the same permanence and durability äs art works, but in this case closely related to the eventual evolution of a world where truths for many centuries accessible only to the few have become truths for everybody" (Arendt. Hannah, The Human Condition, second ed. University of Chicago, 1998, p.272). In the relatively short time since these words were written there have been many challenges to both permanence and durability in the world of art, but few of these assaults facilitated accessibility!

The avant garde of the sixties questioned the continuing centrality of painting and sculpture. Abstraction and figuration erected respective boundaries and definitions which excluded or confined but frequently confused. There were intense preoccupations with claims and counter Claims for the primary of many issues. Attitudes, origins, commodification, originality. appropriation, class, race and gender all invited critical interest and endless debate. Modernist theory vied with modernist art to establish a prototype. äs history was discarded and the absolute embraced. Before such hegemony aiterative paradigms were decisively marginalised. It took the paradoxically reassuring uncertainties of post modernism to break down the strictures of modernism.

Yet for many artists and critics the definitions of the new orthodoxy remained contested and complicated. The frequent vagueness of the ensuring debate led to a void that was to prove encouraging for many artists. Theories surrounding value receded and art was no longer necessarily an integral part of intellectual culture. In many well publicised and handsomely rewarded examples art became a lifestyle issue dictated by fashion. The imperatives were for instant and limited gratification which characterises so much of popular culture.

At the outset of his career Roland Piché was recognised as independent. It is a stance he has unselfconsciously and resolutely maintained, having never been part of a group or a purveyor of popular or limited ideas. Consider the work you see here. There is a strong Suggestion of the three dimensional. There are also references to Christianity, to Humanist tradition. to pre Christian Western art and the visual traditions of ancient Egypt. There is spontaneity inherent in the artist's use of resin, and the depiction of the women on the beach. There is fragmentation and a discernible difference in the Situation and dominant tradition of each highly individual figure. But there is also an over arching unity of understanding and purpose although we know we are looking at a divided reality.

We have before us many layers of meaning and Interpretation, but this diversity is not the language of value free and arbitrary cultural cannibalism that has characterised far too many exhibitions. These works incorporate what the artist describes, quite simply, äs his "core" values. They were espoused in his youth and he has been true to them. The questions he asked then have not been forgotten or corrupted, they have been reiterated, and in many instances Consolidated by the insights provided by maturity and a determination not to lose sight of those principles of sculpture on which so much rests.

Roland Piché has never admitted a hierarchy of material or process. We do not usually organise a hierarchy of language and yet we can manipulate, interrogate or elevate the language at our disposal to take us to the desired level of communication. The magnificent Woman And Stones On The Beach consolidates these ideas. and invites comparison with his previous work. This figure which alludes to all the powerful goddesses of ancient Egypt and signifies both procreation and destruction. She is also deeply centred by gravitational force, but her inherent core is also found in the sea and fts tides. The gravitational pull of the moon, the "watery star" is also present in not only the force of the figure but in its luminosity. She is at one with the sea, its sudden changes and ultimate indifference to the aspirations or fears of humanity and its suffering. This is nature at its most elemental, a preoccupation of the scientists but irresistible to the romantic! The true reconciliation of differences.

Baudelaire wrote that beauty has a dual aspect, the mutable and the unchanging. So does the work of Roland Piché.

Kate Hughes

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