John Stark, an amazing British artist has created a body of art entitled "Apiculture" (beekeeping). The theme of anonymous beekeepers engaged in ritual beekeeping is timeless, set somewhere in the past or distant future. Like most good artwork it is an ambiguous metaphor who's interpretation is subjective to the observer and evolving over time. John describes his artwork as “a really nice open metaphor, that can be read in so many different ways. All through the history of literature and art, the beehive has been cited as an example of utopian society, of a selfless existence. Do these hives represent the world? An idealised world? Art, even? Are the keepers the artists, producing the art, or the collectors harvesting the art?”
The beehives and beekeepers form the narrative instrument to delve into the spiritual existential meaning of life. "I see painting as a way of being, it is at least a mystical path and I believe in its power as a pursuit for truth where notions of the self are reflected upon. The result is then allegorical for the viewer who projects on to these open narratives traits from their own perception of their reality. The intention is that the works operate as a gateway for us to pass through together (in the metaphysical sense) while simultaneously tapping into the collective unconscious.
I can’t name a direct inspiration for this, although I have been listening to a lot of Buddhist teachings recently and looking at the symbolism from the school of The Fourth Way which refers to a concept used by G.I. Gurdjieff to describe an approach to self-development that helps to realize ones potential by transcending the body and achieving a higher state of consciousness. It is thought that we are living in a waking sleep and there are various ways to focus our attention and energy so that a range of inner abilities become possible. So it’s something inherent and built into the work and these current paintings refer back to ideas explored in my earlier works which attempt to tackle issues of the self, individuation and ‘the spiritual’ by replacing old mythologies and placing myself in the cannon of an art historical context."
I will never look at beekeeping the same way again. Check out John Stark's art at http://johnstarkgallery.co.uk/home.html .