Philip E. Harding
Artist’s statement
Revised 2/1/2016


What preoccupies me are very basic problems of existence – how the universe came into existence, how life and consciousness came into existence, the impact of evolution, the processes of entropy and disentropy (systems and forces that build order and complexity), and how our minds see, experience and understand the world.

I have as great a capacity for self deception as anyone. I have held ideas for years only to conclude they don’t hold up to the most basic standards of intellectual rigor. Still, I press on. At present I am taking ideas from physics and biology and combining them with what I know of aesthetics and abstract visual relationships. I also find myself returning repeatedly over the years to a series that involves combining very linear, repetitive geometry that suggests infinity with abstract patterns of spheres that, among other things, seeks to maximize the variety of size and spacing to evoke a sense of timelessness (constantly changing yet always remaining the same.)

No matter what we think or feel, the physical world is what it is, independent of belief. And yet there is something about personal non linear, non rational experiences that are a fundamental part of conscious life. Every artist knows that there are two primary modes of being connected roughly with the left and right hemispheres of the brain. To draw a grid or other geometric structure involves a very left brain form of concentration but right brain judgments are very different. As one draws or paints, thinking visually in such elements as line, shape or color one taps into those senses capable of making judgments about how something feels, it’s state of being – how whole or broken, how fit or diseased, even how moral, ethical or corrupt a thing is. These are not beliefs or fuzzy feelings they are judgments whose ablity to make we have evolved over countless generations of looking into the fractal chaos of forests and plains learning to spot the predator or prey whose camouflage is not quite right.

In my art I want both modes to co exist – fine geometry combined with color fields and expressionistic line work, rigid patterns juxtaposed against organic and fluid patterns, or a formal underlying structure providing order to chaos and an infinite variety of natural forms. Everything I make seems to fall short, sometimes embarrassingly so, but art seems to be the only field of study and activity that offers any hope for me as an individual to make any headway on this, most human of problems.



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