A few years ago, I was captivated by a discussion about a poetic format.
I was jogging with a poet friend and we were discussing this format, the Ghazal. She was describing the formal rules of the poem, and how poets opt to follow, break, bend, and twist those rules. We talked about the deeper meaning of those rules, and how culture and time changes the poetic form. It (the poetic format in question) stays alive by adapting, yet keeping its formalities.
I was inspired to make a small series of Ghazal paintings.
To begin and function, I needed to decide how I would express the ideas of rhyming couplets, how to express rhythm. I worked out my system, and began. After and during working on these, I thought and wondered about other poetic forms, and how they would “translate” into painting. I eventually moved on to the Sonnet.
Using a similar approach, but not so free-formed, I painted lines. I painted the idea of iambic pentameter. I painted in “rhymes” (similar shapes.) Then I went to town. I came up with five different paintings using this form.
Again owing to my creative process, I was thinking ahead while I was focussed on these works. What if I painted specific Sonnets? I grabbed my trusty old book of Shakespeare, and let myself be inspired by specific Shakespeare sonnets. I chose my works, and began each of these new paintings with an oilstick drawing, in response to the poem. I didn’t stick with the “format” idea so much as I had before, rather loosely interpreted in image what I was reading.
After having worked on them for what seemed to be long enough, I decided to let the Poetry Paintings rest for a bit. I painted other bodies of work. I did talk about these paintings with people, I did sell some, I did have opportunities to show them, scattered within group exhibitions. Then, an opportunity came to exhibit them all together for the first time. Once I realised I would be doing this, I immediately began working on another poetic format in painting: the Haiku. With the Haiku, I have opted to be a little pictorial, not so abstract in the painting. There is a hint of either landscape or nature in these poems/paintings. -Natasha Henderson
The exhibition Poetry opens this Saturday 21 January, and runs during regular Gallery Hours 3pm to 6pm Tuesday through Sunday, at Fleurbain until March 1. Please join us for a vernissage this Saturday from 6pm onwards.
Fleurbain is located at 460 St Catherine West, Unit 917.
During this exhibition we will feature a poetry reading (with guest authors) and artist talk on February 4th at 7pm. Stay tuned!