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SAX IMPEY
'PACIFIC'

13/9 – 25/10/2019

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EXHIBITION FOREWORD
 

Anima Mundi is delighted to present ‘Pacific’ by the internationally renowned British artist Sax Impey.

‘Pacific’ is an exhibition of new work, comprising multi-scale painting, drawing and a film work, made by the artist following completion of a 5,000 mile sailing trip in the Pacific Ocean in 2018, from Panama to Chile via the Galapagos Islands and Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

The work draws upon the unique experiences of the 60 day voyage, including both extraordinary landfalls and the time spent sailing one of the most remote parts of the ocean. The exhibition offers a compelling record, which both witnesses the duration of a long ocean voyage, with its storms and calms, and finds in the fantastic archaeology of Rapa Nui a potent echoing symbolism for our own time and culture.

The film work, ‘Pacific’, compresses the chronological passage of two months into one hour, enabling in the viewer a sense of the duration of the whole, and of certain key passages of time, elements and sea state - a work which, whilst meditative and ruminative, contains a strong sense of the very real jeopardy such a voyage entails.

The film, and select drawings in the exhibition, also focus on the mariners developing relationship with the birds of the sea, the welcome encounters with these wanderers of the open ocean, and with those that presage the coming land, and find in the frigate bird a particular, totemic, otherworldly presence, its evocative form so placed between man and bird as to suggest something else entirely.

Many of the exhibition works depict some of the nearly 1,000 monumental statues, or ‘Moai’, found on the island of Rapa Nui (now called Isla de Pascua, and still known widely as Easter Island), one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. These extraordinary creations stand silently, enigmatically presiding over a history of deforestation, overuse of resources, extinctions and internecine warfare, and, with the arrival of Europeans, slavery and disease. With our own culture engaged in the same destructive process on a far larger scale, the artist presents us with images which, whilst both mysterious and evocative, contain an urgent and salutary message. The sightless eye sockets of each one of the line of towering figures at Tongariki still contain an accusatory, baleful or beseeching warning to us all.


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ONLINE CATALOGUE (click below) :

 
 

EXHIBITION ARTWORK IMAGES

“Considering the small size of these islands, we feel the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings, and at their confined range. Seeing every height crowned with its crater, and the boundaries of most of the lava streams still distinct, we are led to believe that within a period, geologically recent, the unbroken ocean was here spread out. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact - that mystery of mysteries - the first appearance of new beings on this earth…”

Charles Darwin, Journal



“To sail... to pursue the setting sun, to bend a sheet to sail and harness the wind… to enter the pelagic realm, to cast off the inconsequential and the false… to encounter everything on its’ own terms, unmediated… to greet the welcome arrival of a lone sea bird with all and total concentration…

…This creature… the frigate bird. I see them, wheeling, turning, swooping, and something so insistent calls from my own subconscious… I don’t know what it is… There is an otherness to these creatures, with their form redolent of both bird and man, a suggestion of something else entirely… something that crossed into our world from another… perhaps they wheel about the river Styx, and line the rail as Charon plies his crossing… He occupies my dreams now, this birdman, and brings foreboding… There is fear onboard… trepidation for the voyage ahead… I think this birdman comes with us, and haunts our wake, the brief trace of which marks our own passing as surely and as inexorably as the passage of our vessel through the open ocean.”

 

“Rapa Nui is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The tiny population on Pitcairn is 1300 miles away, and continental Chile some 2200 miles to the east. To sail away from there is to enter a vast empty ocean, where your vessel is alone. As the Southern latitude rises, so does the weather… low pressure system following high following low in never ending succession… each system taking just a few days to cross the South Pacific from New Zealand to South America.”

“All civilisations end, one way or another... only the myopic and the stupid can gaze complacently out from their own and expect an entirely different outcome. Rome was eternal, the sun would never set on the British Empire, and no doubt the Rapa Nui people expected the towering figures of their ancestors to gaze over a thriving island for a great deal longer than they did. But deforestation, over hunting, the overuse of resources, the destruction of their own environment led to internecine warfare, and the statues were toppled. The ancestors had failed, and betrayed, and birdman had arrived. We too will fail, if we persist in blindness - if we keep taking the blue pill. The corporate construct, with its’ ceaseless torrent, its’ trillions of seconds of advertising lies, day after day, night after night, year after year after year, layer upon layer; this accretion of falsehoods overlays the world as it actually is, and replaces it, creating the conditions for a normalcy which is anything but, where just about everything considered normal is in fact insane, inhuman, inhumane and ecologically catastrophic. How is one supposed to live in this world, to be, to act, when one knows it to be false - to be so out of step with your own civilisation’s apparent aims and desires that you have never once felt any sense of belonging and shared purpose? How many of us feel this way? “Everybody knows the boat is leaking, everybody knows the captain lied” sang Leonard Cohen. Well it is, and they did. The line of towering figures at Tongariki whisper of what they witnessed, and continue to stare from sightless eye sockets over a world that has gone, with a gaze that contains a prophetic warning for us all.”

Sax Impey, 2019


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PACIFIC

single channel video, running time 57 min 23 seconds (5 minute extract)

 
 
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BIOGRAPHY :
 


Sax Impey was born in Penzance, Cornwall in 1969. He completed a BA(Hons) Fine Art at Newport in 1991 and returned to Cornwall in 1994.

Since 2005 he has produced allegorical works derived almost exclusively from experiences at sea. A qualified RYA Yachtmaster, he has sailed many thousands of nautical miles in many parts of the world.

Impey’s extensive trips at sea have had a profound impact on his life and subsequent development as an artist. Reconnecting to nature through this powerful element has the almost inescapable effect of calling to question some of life’s existential questions. This epiphanic moment of realisation, of revelation, is at the core of Impey’s oeuvre.

Reflecting on and capturing personal moments and making them universal, Impey’s work reaffirms the importance of introspection and confrontation, found specifically when surrounded by the natural world; “A mind can breathe, and observe, and reflect, away from the shrill desperation of a culture that, having forgotten that it is better to say nothing than something about nothing, invents ever new ways to fill every single space with less and less.”

Sax Impey has occupied no.8 Porthmeor Studios since 2003, part of an historic studio complex overlooking Porthmeor beach in St Ives.

In 2007 his work was selected for the ‘Art Now Cornwall’ exhibition at the Tate St Ives where he was placed on the cover of the associated publication, the same year he was heralded in The Times as one of the ‘New Faces of Cornish Art’.

In 2010 Impey featured in the Owen Sheers, BBC4 Documentary ‘Art of the Sea (In Pictures)’ alongside Anish Kapoor, J M W Turner, Martin Parr and Maggie Hambling among others. In 2012 he was elected an Academician of The RWA.

Whilst maintaining a solo studio practice Impey has also engaged in numerous collaborative projects, including film, theatre, performance and installation works. His paintings are in numerous collections including The Arts Council, Warwick University, The Connaught Hotel and other private collections worldwide.

Sax Impey is represented by Anima-Mundi.

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