A new series and new practice based on Ensō

Recently multiple new practices have come together seemingly by coincidence. Over the 2016 holiday season I found myself exploring many past parts of myself, specifically those connected to personal spirituality, understanding of multiple cultural practices, and my own inner desire to get back to working in the plastic mediums of painting and drawing.

The end result is a new body of work that all seems to be rooted in the idea of Ensō.

“In Zen Buddhism, an ensō ( , “circle”?) is a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create.” Read more on Wikipedia

The most recent piece I have created has combined my so far over 2 week exploration of these ideas with my work in moving images to create a short work called Life.

Life was inspired by the engagement I have received from my facebook network as daily I have created a new ensō and made it my profile pic. Here is a quote from a share by one of those connections. “This little video is a gem from Matt Swift demonstrating the temporal nature of beauty and existence. Take a minute of your time to watch Life” Nicole Desiree

To move backwards chronologically, up to this point here are a few examples of the daily ensō.

enso010317 - ink painting by matt swift enso010417 - ink painting by matt swift enso010616 - ink painting by matt swift enso122716 - ink painting by matt swift enso122816 - ink painting by matt swift  enso123016 - ink painting by matt swift

Every day around lunch time I turn to my practice board, I think about if I wish to create a complete enso or an incomplete enso. Once that is decided I think about how thick I would like to make the enso today and load up my bamboo brush accordingly. Then in a single stroke I free my mind and let my hand attempt to express where I am on that day. You can see from day to day that there are differences in the stroke. Some feel much more confident while some have moments of rushed beginnings and overly controlled endings. Each serves as a representation of that days mind set and how I am trying to find a balance within myself.

To move back even one step further, this whole endeavor came together because of my own physical inability to create realism with any sort of hand based mark making instrument due to a disability. I am always trying to find a path back to my early artistic begins as a portrait and landscape artist and this new work is serving as a new form of portraiture for me. The ensos are self portraits. The other part of this work combines abstract self portraiture with more conceptual ideas of representing networks that exist within myself and networks that are unseen but apparent through connections with other humans. These works take two forms – Felt Tip Pen on Paper and Felt Tip Pen on Canvas. The difference between the two is a matter of perception. With the paper the works call attention to the network connections and the isolationism that happens within these networks. The works on canvas explore the connections themselves, how they overlap, blend together, and can be taken for granted.

Here are a few examples of each.

focusing-on-three - Felt Pen on Canvas by Matt Swift the-hidden-connection - Felt Pen on Canvas by Matt Swift the-one-that-binds - Felt Pen on Paper by Matt Swift three-trying-to-become-five - Felt Pen on Paper by Matt Swift trying-to-hold-it-together - Felt Pen on Paper by Matt Swift

I am very excited to continue this new mode and depending on where it ends up, a unified show of all the work could pop up somewhere in Columbus, Ohio.

Thanks for reading this post. If you are interested in this work and others I am pursuing subscribe to this website or follow me on instagram.

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