Story, Reality, Sainthood


Peter Breen

Folio of 5 diptychs on Japan paper



These works are asking questions that continue my endless inquiry around meaning and more, constructs. How are these that I hold as saints beyond human weakness constructed to be, speak, write, compose, perform and make art that holds and informs me? All of us are constructed through spoken word and text within the flux of experience. Words, grammar and syntax come to us holding hope, fear, grace, expectation, love, hate, instruction, knowledge, facts.

Each of these men have impacted my world view, my belief system and shed small rays of light on meaning. But theirs is a world, has been a world, where dark and sometimes open secrets swirl in their experiences, through their art practice, through their contemplations and through their decisions. These experiences – and text based inputs from their “saints” – slam or open doors on who they are and how they respond to lived experience.

I have worked with very rough monotype painted prints representing this flux in their lives in contrast to the illustrator stylised religious icon faces of their sainthood status that belies reality. Who knew that Patrick White proclaimed a conversion epiphany to monotheistic belief which was then shot out of the water when a Sydney vicar declared that anyone who gambled on how many jellybeans were in a lolly jar at a church fete was committing a sin? What were the influences in Manning Clark’s formation as the son of a Congregational Pastor? What construction did Thomas Merton’s New Zealand artist father have on the influential hermit monk and friend of the Dali Lama? What of William Kentridge’s father’s defence of Nelson Mandela in a South African court or Bob Dylan’s abandonment of Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity?

If we fail to ask open ended intelligent questions of our saints we risk an unlived meaningless life.

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