Paintings            GARY BARTEN
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Life Power Chain
Signals from the Wellspring to Sprocket Futures

Tao Te Ching #4

Existence by nothing bred,
Breeds everything.
Parent of the universe,
It smooths rough edges,
Unties hard knots,
Tempers the sharp sun,
Lays blowing dust,
Its image in the wellspring never fails.
But how was it conceived? – this image
Of no other sire.
trans. Witter Bynner

We calibrate and measure then design our existence accordingly. Our scientific enlightenment has provided a lens on the world and the tools that accompany it to redefine our days and worry out our lifespans. Meanwhile a hidden wellspring has provided all of this abundance to accompany our being giving scant knowledge of its source. There is a linkage here that we are so obviously a part of but the gist of which often escapes us.

The weather report comes to our screens and then we look out of the window to check it.

How might we comprehend the unity of ourselves and the terms of our lifespan? Must we invent extraterrestrial heavens for our future, or can we instead come to terms with the provisions of life that emerge as if from a wellspring of endless bounty? Religious dogma provides a lock on past, present, and future but cannot substantiate its smoke and mirrors without a game of faith. Modern physics has struggled for years with a unified theory of the universe and sometimes the closer the solution seems to be at hand is also the moment at which it flees from us and changes the game. Legends and human history continually realign and so in ancient China a former state librarian named Lao Tzu supposedly was asked by a gate keeper at a mountain pass to convey a philosophy that he had either developed himself or collected from countless sources into a written legacy to be left behind as he then traveled away from civilization never to return.

Tao Te Ching #6

The valley spirit that does not die
we call the dark womb
the dark womb’s mouth
we call the source of Heaven and Earth
as elusive as gossamer silk
and yet it can’t be exhausted

trans. Red Pine (Bill Porter)

Our 21c world is the continuing by-product of an industrial and technological revolution that has provided a mechanical view of the world to accompany the enhancements that have made our lives more comfortable in the less inhabitable areas of nature. There is, of course, a trade-off here that has been rendered almost invisible as we lead our lives to its clock-work rhythm. If we listen to our heartbeat and breath a different world is recalled but the pervasiveness of the mechanized measure always returns to the fore.

These paintings are a meditation on this conundrum, a recognition of our current state of affairs measured by clock and calendar while ultimately tuned to the underlying continuum of a wellspring of life.
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