“Bountiful:” from the word “bounty” - it’s meaning rooted in the Old French word: “bonte.” Goodness. To be bountiful is to be good.
The natural world (the created order we human kind feel ourselves part of – and yet unsettlingly outside of as well) is bountiful. In it’s adaptation; in it’s survival; in it’s proliferation, in all it’s sensory splendour and profusion; and in it’s cycle of death and re/birth – the natural world is given; and in generous and reckless amounts.
Lynda Shalagan has a long-standing creative engagement as a painter with the natural world. Her very act of painting is a response to this gift; her works are imbued with thanksgiving for the bounty of nature. Each painting springs deep from her need to respond. In the solitude of the studio a vision, insistent and always adapting, leads her onward. From the sensed unity and wholeness of a bountiful nature, Shalagan - and her preconceived vision - are questioned. Further on as each painting evolves the questioning falls silent. Beyond words, beyond ideas, there is seeing: seeing a new. As with the natural world, human creation is a cycle of life and death; from death springs a new creation. So it is for Shalagan who dies many small deaths: dying to her existing notions about the natural world and dying as well to preconceptions of what any given painting should be. In the silence, in that time-less, space-less act of creativity and fed by all her senses, she perceives colour, form and light and shadow not as she experienced them before.
And so we have presented here Shalagan’s gifts, Shalagan’s bounty: her need to respond and create – and just as important, to share. As viewers in a gallery we have the opportunity to come to each gift, each painting, and experience it for what it is - not for what we think it should be. There is something inherently vulnerable and even intimate about such an activity in a public space. Here we are encouraged to view creatively. It comes with some trepidation because in responding we are then opening ourselves to small deaths, just as Shalagan has, so that we too may see anew. We sense our need – our hope – in experiencing something. Something more. Something beyond. Beauty? Transcendence? Surrendering to each small death and to the letting go of each firmly held notion, there is the promise of new visions. We are invited to open ourselves to a bounty of yet to be experienced plays of light and shadow; colours; forms; and textures – in Shalagan’s paintings, in ourselves - and in the world around us.
- Ian McKinnon February 2023