Transcript – ABC Art Show (2000)


Close Up: Asher Bilu

I’ve always had a fascination with science as a source of inspiration.

Big questions really ignite the imagination.

When I painted this series of paintings, people took a look at them and often said, “Oh, it looks like ripples of water, it looks like rain.” Or, of course, it could look like what you would imagine sun does as it echoes away. Circles are really the predominant shape in our lives; in our world. Light plays an enormous part in this process, as it falls on to the painting. Light is, after all what it’s all about.

One of the paintings in my last show is titled The Mysteries of the Known. We know so much and yet there is so much mystery still ahead of us. And what wonderful creative scope that provides for an artist to work with. It’s endless, looking in to a microscope or looking up in to the heavens, it’s the same thing. It’s the wonder of it all that I’ve been taken by.

When it comes to the medium, which is an integral part, right at the outset, I realised that in order to be an artist, I just wanted to add something new, something that I hadn’t seen before. So experimentation was always a part of me. I went and discovered my own media and I still do; I still look for new media. And that doesn’t make the painting good or bad – these are just the tools, the means, the language; my way of saying things. But it’s still a challenge to make it a success.

Abstraction, to me is a challenge, I see it as my song. It’s a damn hard thing to pull off a good painting; to create a great work of art. And it doesn’t always work. But for me, abstraction allows that freedom of expression, because the paintings I create come from an accumulation of visual experience and life itself.

I always find the analogy with music interesting because people who would look at an abstract painting without being able to quite relate to it would listen to a piece of music and love it! They’d get a lot of pleasure out of it and some of them would say they understand it. It’s completely abstract and yet it speaks to them. So in that sense, abstraction works for me. And what I try to do with abstraction is to breathe life in to it; to make it sing.

The reactions that people have to my work on the whole, give me great pleasure. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to make people think or just enjoy something they haven’t seen before.

The piece for the Melbourne International Festival is called Escape. As I was walking through a printing factory, I came across an envelope machine which was spewing thousands of envelopes a minute. At the same time, it was throwing aside these wonderful little off cuts. And then the idea came to me that I could actually take this paper, paint some of it and fill up the gallery with it. And it was a huge success. You could see anyone who walked in to the studio, when they saw this abundance of paper they’d start to build and throw themselves in to it. We knew it was going to be a goer.

This little piece was for Ruby who wanted to have a party in my studio. And I thought, well, I’ll give you a party, Ruby. And it was done in the same vein as an installation; just a smaller version. And it was a wonderful opportunity to give the kids an experience and a sense of freedom. What we were trying to achieve is that wonderful sense of being in another world. You just shut the door and you are in another world. The fun is about allowing the people to participate; these are installations that are designed for people to be a part of with no rules.

You can’t change the world with a brush, that’s for sure. But you can give people a lot of pleasure and joy. And the beauty of it is we all have something to say; the variety is infinite. My bit is about the wonder and the joy and the mystery of life itself.