Timelessness and Infinity: The Art of Philip E. Harding

2018 exhibition at Columbia Basin College, Pasco WA



My art uses a limited range of motifs and compositional formats. On one level I am looking for beauty and aesthetic pleasure but on another I am dealing with how we think about life, and how we think about what is valuable.

We often give great weight to ideas we can never experience directly and lesser weight to experiences we all find valuable but which are difficult to define. Part of this is due to the relative importance we give to our rational, linear, left brain over our intuitive, aesthetic, right brain. Consider our ideas about infinity. We can work with these ideas mathematically and reference them visually but as mortals we can’t actually experience them. On the other hand we can have experiences that are timelessness. We experience it directly when we encounter nature in balance and can cultivate it in our art and architecture.

Timelessness is more than a vague feeling but it is hard to define. In his book The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander talks about “the quality without a name,” which underscores the difficulty in finding a clear left brained definition. I see the timeless as connected to questions of value. For example a window might be well constructed and meet code but whether or not it forms a window place where one feels at home sitting next to it involves a different kind of value judgment, one that can not be measured in a real estate appraisal but which is critical to the wellbeing of those living there.

These two qualities are recurring themes in my art: geometry rendered expressively, a view of infinity harmoniously divided, or a rigid grid juxtaposed against a fluid pattern of spheres floating through space as timeless as a river. Just as a building must both meet code and feel right I want art that engages both our rational and our aesthetic senses. An art that is accessible while being capable of supporting years of contemplative viewing.

Philip E. Harding
June 19, 2018