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I believe order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology. I believe that in spite of the recent triumphs of science, men haven't changed much in the last two thousand years; and in consequence we must try to learn from history.”

                                                                                                                     -Kenneth Clark in Civilization.



Gareth Bate's Cosmos and Anarchy series consists of small abstracted paintings depicting an imagined cosmos combined with video stills from recent riots in London, Athens, Madrid, Cairo and Tehran. These twelve inch-square, densely worked paintings depict our current global turmoil playing out as part of cosmic drama. Around the world people are rising up in an effort to overthrow tyrannical governments. The worry is always what will replace them?


In the paintings tear gas and burning buildings morph into galaxies. Gareth states, "The image that kept coming into my head while painting was the battlefield from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture about a warrior frozen with anxiety. The real war is an internal one. He must make a choice, follow his duty, or flee." An existential struggle is always playing out Gareth's work. A search for personal meaning undercut by a worry that things are ultimately meaningless. The struggle becomes an artistic one: Does this amount to anything? Does anyone care? Does art have any impact on the world anymore? And will this object even survive? And, in the end he keeps painting.


The cosmos, as well as metaphors of historical time, have been central themes in Gareth's work for several years. This includes the series Deep Field, inspired by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field photographs which revealed the existence of billions of galaxies. The Floating World series combined images of the cosmos and landscape with devastating imagery from the Japanese tsunami. Most significantly the cosmos and history themes run through his ongoing Jewel Net of Indra installation. He has been working on this massive painting-based installation for two and half years. It now includes 1600 miniature painted historical figures on mirrors. They combine to form an interconnected web of human history. The Cosmos and Anarchy paintings were created simultaneously with the Jewel Net of Indra installation. They evolved intentionally out of the paint palettes used for that work.


Gareth Bate