Marin Red Void, 1996
oil on linen
29" x 24"
Green Atmosphere, 1980
oil on canvas
60" x 48"
During the Middle Ages, alchemy was practiced throughout Europe. A study of chemistry that concerned itself with the transmutation of lesser metals into gold during the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries, it also alluded to the purification of manís soul. Whether purging metals of base elements or scourging society of its evils, alchemy stimulated the finest artists of the era to search for spiritual truth. The music, painting and prose poetry of the period are full of allegorical references to white spiritual light, radiant and celestial blue.
In this same spirit, twentieth century artist Eric Orr has given us artwork addressing chemistry and light using lead (a base metal), gold (a pure metal) and oil paint on canvas (plus blood, broken and crushed bone, volcanic ash, hair and pulverized transistor radio parts). Through his art, Orr aimed to illustrate the essence of life itself.
Illumination has always represented spirituality. Orr didnít just paint images. He went beyond them straight to the source of life: LIGHT. Like Kandinsky, Reinhardt and Rothko before him, Orr presented us with minimal paintings pushed to their ultimate reduction. They pulsate, glow and radiate the spirit of the life force.
Orr is renowned for his Prime Matter sculptures which operate on fire and water. These monumental sculptures may be seen in museums and public spaces throughout the world.
Orr's installation, The Electrum, at Kakanui Point, New Zealand, is by far the most compelling work in the artist's career. Upon seeing the location overlooking the phenomenal bay, Orr almost immediately came up with the idea of electricity crawling over the surface of a tank. In the video presentation of The Electrum, 1998, Orr says regarding his choice of lightning: "it is like being in the presence of the force of nature. It cleans your mind like a slate."