To Living With Tondela’s Paintings (first letter)


It’s only been a couple of weeks but we’ve already changed my life. Everything is more exciting than it was before — but I’m reticent to say it. I mean, do I really need material things to be reawakened?  Did I fall asleep before we met? I don’t see guilt-ridden commodities on the wall, instances of social assertion and affiliation, fashion or angst, a career phase or confessions. A site of concentration has been formed with Tondela’s paintings.  Time is given over to restive contemplation and creative play, a recurring instance that never triggers regret, that suggests a coherence of world and self, or to put it another way, a unity of living, thought and feeling.
Focus here is artful and continues to hang in front of me. Social distractions are thwarted. Interruptions are powerless against the spiritual privacy of these recurring meeting. I’ve found a fertile solitude in this new company, these traces of Tondela’s solitude, alleviating the most intimate of interruptions from within myself – I gain a measured, confident distance from the excesses of my insecurities and worrying. The rush of seeming crises slow to a point that feels like pausing. Obligations are remade. The ordinary world and my imagination are reconciled through co-habitation. Everyday life becomes something extraordinary.
Perhaps it helps that Tondela’s paintings look like doors or portals to something beyond us. Perhaps the recurring X that commandeers them marks a point of disappearance. Perhaps the saturated, immersive colours within these works invite a dissolving of self-consciousness while intimating the eternal. I’m not sure. I think other, different images, ones with explicitly representational content, would still lend themselves to everything occurring with us, all that I’m trying to describe about it here, while sharing more of the allegorical layering, associations and reference of other, predominantly narrative-based forms and instances of art. These paintings in series are also modest in scale, material and execution. They keep returning me to an intimate and humble process of becoming.
You’ve confirmed for me what I have always believed anyway, that art and life cannot be separated, that they form a wholeness I must protect in order to be healthy and fully conscious. In doing so I befriend uncertainty and experimentation, but they aren’t my only companions in facing the unknown and unknowable. Tondela’s struggle is here too, always with me in these paintings. They return me to a sense of solidarity in being human.
I wish everyone had this ongoing recognition, engagement and dignity in their lives. It should be a right.