In the early 1980s, I trained as an electrical technician in the Royal Air Force. Saudi Arabia 1986 working in the electrical room of an oil refinery was a revelation. I was amazed by the interiors of countless electrical cabinets, two metres high by one metre wide - an astonishing display of wires and cables in a myriad of colours and complexity, in complete contrast with their non descript grey exteriors. Thousands of connections, alive with electrical energy.
Working alone in this artificial environment, the air humming and resonating to the sound of transformers on full load, was often strange and surreal. I began to realise that I was looking into these cabinets not only through the eyes of a technician, but also through those of an artist. The German twelfth century mystic Meister Eckhart spoke in one of his sermons of hidden beauty, of flowers growing in fields and forests unseen by human eyes. I was in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, in a massive underground bunker, in a completely artificial environment, and I had seen the flowers!
Years later, I started to make my own ´devices´ or sculptures in response to that epiphany I had experienced in the Middle East. I was also endeavouring to reconcile those parts of myself that society work education and conditioning had kept apart and compartmentalized the technician, the artist, the philosopher the poet . Many of the great minds in western philosophy have considered the attempt to unite the divine and the physical within oneself to be doomed to failure. Was it possible for a technician to see profound beauty in an electrical cable installation, or does this require the sensitive nature of the artist or poet? The glass cabinet sculptures that I made were Cartesian boxes where hard, unfeeling industry was forced to cohabit with beauty and things of the spirit. The poet William Blake disagreed that this divide between the material and the spirit existed, since all is simply energy. I was using technology as a vehicle to unite all the parts of myself that had been seperated as well as showing the strange and infinite ways in which beauty can manifest itself.
The long titles of my early pieces was not only an attempt to explain the work, but an effort also to bring together as one the different elements contained within the sculptures - industry, philosophy, poetry, and art. There was also a degree of irony and cynicism in the long explanations as everything in our western culture must always be clarified defined explained. Logical, labelled, scientifically analysed, rational. Rationalism as the writer Austin Warren once said, is like scorching unrelenting sunshine, it burns the vegetation.
Nietzsche once claimed that there are many truths, and that is how I feel about my work. Defying standard classification, it belongs in a kind of nether world, one that sits uncomfortably with our ´normal´ and organised scheme of things. These machines and devices do not - and cannot - operate in an electrical or industrial environment, as their function is purely aesthetic and philosophical. However, when placed in a Gallery or natural environment, seem out of place to the onlooker because of their industrial and technological appearance. John Power.
JOHN POWER C.V.
1958 Born Bunclody County Wexford Ireland
2009 Werkschau – Group Exhibition
Baumwollspinnerei Leipzig Germany.
2007 SIGNALE - International Group Show.
Old Slaughter Yard, Ostragehege, Dresden, Germany.
DISCORD - Solo Exhibition
Archiv Massiv Gallery, Baumwollspinnerei Leipzig, Germany.
2004 Werkschau - Group Exhibition
2003 Werkschau - Group Exhibition
2002 Moved to Leipzig, Germany
Artist in the Baumwollspinnerei Leipzig
Fire Station Artist Studios Dublin Ireland.
2000 Solo-Exhibition Wexford Arts Festival , County Wexford, Ireland
Received Wexford County Bursary Award for the Visual Arts
Work exhibited at the I.T.Corporate Conference, City Hall Cork , Ireland
1997 VOLUME - Group Exhibition
Crawford Gallery, Cork
Selected by Alanna Heiss,PS 1 Gallery, NY
Work Exhibited Dublin Airport, Ireland.
Sculpture Installation Meeting House Square
Temple Bar, Dublin Ireland.
National Sculpture Factory Cork.
1994 Anya von Gosseln Gallery, Dublin.
1991 Solo-Exhibition at Kilkenny Arts week
1990 Brownes Gallery, Dublin - Group Exhibition