Ralph Kerle's Art in Portugal

WelcomeToArt Gallery, Embaixada, Principe Real, Lisbon, Portugal

I was honoured to be asked to participate in a new group exhibition at the WelcomeToArt Art Gallery in one of Lisbon’s hip new concept/gallery spaces, Embaixada, Praça do príncipe real 26,1° 1250-184.

The exhibition included three up and coming Portuguese photographers Teresa Marques dos Santos, Jorje and award winning José Esteves Martins providing me with an opportunity to expose my work and to interact with the Portuguese fine art photographic community.

Following the exhibition opening, I went on a location scout along the coast line and water ways of Portugal that will result a series of new works out of Portugal in 2019. This first work comes from Aveiro in northern Portugal often referred to as the Venice of Portugal. This work has opened up a new theme that I have entitled Buildings on Water,

Buildings on Water 1, Aveiro Portugal. 1600 x 1061mm

A Good Eye

Desert Water Groove 1650 x 1275 Dubai Marina, Dubai UAE Nov 12 5.24pm

Desert Water Groove 1650 x 1275 Dubai Marina, Dubai UAE Nov 12 5.24pm

A Good Eye

Regularly viewers of my work tell me I have a “good” eye. The reality is I have very very bad eyesight. I have a serious eye condition known as keratoconus. Keratoconus is the slow deterioration and ultimate death of the muscles in the cornea, the surface of the eye. In the mid-1980s I had a corneal transplant that reclaimed sight in my right eye and I am legally blind in my left eye without a hard contact lens that holds my deteriorating cornea in place for the moment.

A recent trip to my eye surgeon provided totally unexpected insight – the pun is intended – as to how this condition plays into my artistic practice and why I see the world the way I do.

The surgeon had sitting in on the consultation a trainee ophthalmologist and in a brief exchange between the two as the surgeon was looking into my eyes through his phoropter, the surgeon explained keratoconus sufferers see the world in a unique way.

A normal cornea has the firmness and shape of a camera lens allowing the brain immediate focus in any given moment. On the other hand, keratoconus sufferers are always seeing shapes with slightly blurred or haloed edges. Their brains have learnt to accept this abnormality in focus searching for movement and stillness to enable perception as distinct from those with normal eyesight whose brains register immediate sharpness on focus. The images I create come as a result of my brain harnessing the uniqueness of the way my eyes see the world. I am often asked by viewers “what am I looking at ?”and on reflection the viewer is observing my subconscious at work, actively interacting with my impaired body - specifically my deeply damaged eyesight..

At last, an explanation perhaps for the “good” eye.

A Painting from the East - or is it? A Case of Pareidolia

A Painting from the East 1, 2100 x 1170mm Signed Limited Edition of 5.

A Painting from the East 1, 2100 x 1170mm Signed Limited Edition of 5.

I love discovering new works, trying to make sense of them and how they speak to me as I create and name them. In the process, I try constantly to find ways of describing the thinking behind my creative work concisely. I recently finished reading Reductionism in Art and Brain Science – Bridging the Two Cultures by the 2000 Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine, Eric Kandel.  The book is a superb short easy read on the emergence of abstract art in the 20th century and its connection with the field of psychology, a relatively recent scientific development. 

Kandel writes
“…The brain specializes in extracting meaningful patterns from the input it receives, even when that input is extremely noisy. This psychological phenomenon is referred to as pareidolia, in which a vague, random stimulus is perceived as significant.”

This is not a recent observation. In 15th Century, Leonardo Da Vinci wrote of this capability in his notebooks:
:…If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see diverse combats and figures in quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well-conceived forms….”

Kandel's writing has given me a way of explaining my creative process and why it evokes such a hugely diverse range of perceptions from my viewers. Perception creates pareidolia in the viewer by asking the profound question: “How do you impose order on randomness?"

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The Enter Art Foundation’s “42 Contemporary Artists” Exhibition, Berlin Art Week 2018

A selection of shots from the Enter Art Foundation exhibition “42 Contemporary Artists”, a vital part of the Berlin Art Week. The Enter Art Foundation is a unique Berlin based not for profit visual art organisation founded with the express purpose of curating exhibitions designed to introduce the work of emerging artists to European audiences. As Gunter Sachs said “ even with technology, emerging artists are still the hardest to find and are almost invisible to the public”. Head Curator, Dr Suzy Royal’s role is to select between 30 to 40 artists from the hundreds of submissions she receives and to curate those works into a reflection of the Enter Art Foundation manifesto. The works of the selected artists are actively promoted by EAF in a series of exhibitions that so far in 2018 have included Stockholm Art Week and Bonn.

I am honoured to have been selected as one of the emerging artists and to have had my artwork featured in the marketing promotion for the exhibition and the Berlin Art Week 2018, a whole of city celebration.

An Industrial Art Commission - The Challenge for the Cartography of Flow - Red

One of the real joys of my work is co-creating with clients. Khalil Najjar is Managing Director and Owner of Optim Logistics, Australia’s largest film equipment and concert entertainment freight forwarder. A move into a new head office sparked Khalil’s creative juices that saw a full scale shipping container being converted into the main meeting room and boardroom. Khalil needed some art to complement his logo design based around the Japanese concept of “enso”, a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create.  A chance trip into the Intercontinental Hotel Gallery, Sydney resulted in Khalil spending time viewing my database of images before settling on the Cartography of Flow – Red as the image he felt best complemented his logo. “Now I challenge you, Ralph. Can you turn that artwork into 4.2 metre triptych?”. View the film to see the surprising result!!