Moving towards the light
In this new body of work completed over the last four months Belinda has continued to address her enduring major themes of people, places and all the possible connections in between. She sees her practice as one of seeking an emotional truth, not of an intellectual imposition upon the work. Many of these new paintings are emotionally reflective. The faux naïf images remain in a few paintings along with a number of drawings. It is in her drawings, as one typically sees in an artists work, her full range of enquiry, the freedom and a lack of self-conscious censure.
The past year has been one of coming to terms again with the act of painting. Initially there was the rediscovery and joy of painting again, having done much else in between. For Belinda this second body has been less revelationary and more introspective. The work has been more of questions of colour upon colour, of how to go beyond drawing with paint and seeking to paint with paint. These works have been laid down into black grounds. She has literally sought the light in the darkness. Through an optimistic act of will she has brought light and order into the rich darkness of her own sub-conscious. She finds that working into white is not so much of a formal problem, but an emotional one. Working into black for her leaves an openendedness, a possibility of more revelations to come in this obscure but unlimited space. She finds that while working into white that the painting does not reveal itself in the same way. The movement towards light parallels the visionary nature of her whole activity.
In her earlier paintings in NYC she would execute an already defined idea to a much greater extent. It was more an act of imposing the image upon the canvas. Now she facilitates the evolution of the image upon the canvas. She tends it, like a garden, another important key activity for her. Gardening in its broader sense has been an important activity for her for many years. Her colour illuminates the darkness, seeks meaning and reveals itself. In this process the artists mind builds upon clues in an open ended manner, moving towards the light. She prefers the speed of acrylic although she has worked in oils.
These paintings are clairvoyant, they reveal people met or often soon to be met. For the artist they are always revelations, they are her journeys of self discovery. She says they have taught her about the limitations of expectation. As before, colour and movement are the fundaments with which she builds works that are full of joie de vivre, suffused with the divers connections naturally made in a life richly lived. They are the gifts of life, a panacea to death. She speaks of definitely being a female painter, of putting intuition first and identifies with many of the female visionary painters such as Frida Khalo, Paula Rego and Dorothy Tanning. She believes the intuition is more finely tuned in women than in men.
The freedom that Belinda enjoys as a painter has been won through many years of academic discipline and this continues to underpin her work. The knowingness is there, she doesn’t have to labour at it. Her paintings are her voyages of discovery. Like Rego, she seeks the spirit of early painting. They both share the same magical realist tendencies,( Portugal and Spain being respective early influences ). Both artists have a certain disdain for the pretentious in art coupled with a natural affinity for the popular and low forms of visual expression. Belinda herself is the common fabric upon which experience is given form and meaning. Her symbolism embraces both the ancient and the modern, the human condition having remained essentially the same.
Professor David Alesworth. A.R.B.S.
Karachi, 15th April 1998