El Hacedor


El Hacedor  mixed media on wood 140 x 100cm

El Hacedor (The Maker), is a collection of poems and short stories by Jorge Luis Borges. The original Spanish title refers to the Scots word makar. The collection reflects on the limitations of creativity. For example in A Yellow Rose the poet Giambattista Marino experiences a mystical revelation on his deathbed.
“Then the revelation occurred. Marino saw the rose, as Adam had seen it in Paradise, and he realised that it lay within its own eternity, not within his words, and that we might speak about the rose, allude to it, but never truly express it, and that the tall, haughty volumes that made a golden dimness in the corner of his room were not (as his vanity had dreamed them) a mirror of the world, but just another thing added to the world’s contents.
Marino achieved that epiphany on the eve of his death, and Homer and Dante may have achieved it as well”.
Robert Brendel founded the R. Brendel company in Breslau in 1866 producing botanical models. These models are enlargements of plants and flowers made of papier mâché, wood, plaster and gelatin. It is possible to dismantle and reassemble the pieces. A didactic revelation, these objects were originally designed to explain the complex structures of nature. Over time they have lost their pedagogical function but can now be viewed from a different perspective and appreciated for their sculptural delicacy and surreal beauty, as objects from a world that is infinitely stranger than we ever dreamed.

Left: Calluna vulgaris (L.) Scottish heather
Right: Euphorbia cyparissias (L.) Cypress spurge




by Ian Howard

Date painted: 1998
Oil on board, 136.4 x 175.6 cm
Collection: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
The left panel reproduces Paolo Uccello’s ‘Perspective Study of a Chalice’, c.1450, which is in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The incorporation of this image highlights Ian Howard’s interest in science and the work of early Renaissance artists. Many of his paintings make references to iconic Renaissance imagery. The title of the Diploma Work ‘Symmetry’ possibly alludes to the perfect symmetry and precision of Uccello’s chalice. There are a number of alchemical images incorporated into the painting. Flanking the perspectival drawing of the chalice are what appear to be two glass jars with various esoteric transfer printed images that have possibly been copied from alchemical textbooks.

The right hand panel reproduces in part Vittore Carpaccio’s painting ‘Saint George and the Dragon’, dated 1504–1507, in the collection of Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice. The image of Carpaccio’s dragon is a recurring motif in many of Ian Howard’s paintings and prints. Ian Howard has also distilled some of the architectural images from the original painting into his Diploma Work. Ian Howard’s work often plays upon oppositions and in this case George and the Dragon represents the opposition of good and evil.

“Symmetry, of the reliquary, the shrine, the altarpiece, is ironized, put into quotes. Objects cease to be stage properties and become emblems. Emblems of what? Above all emblems of emblems. An infinite and unpredictable series of historical and future meanings, hermetic and paranoid, interpretations in which nothing exists by chance”.

Alan Woods

Heretical Diagrams; Ian Howard: a publication of 80 pages and 20 colour plates with essays by Alan Woods, which places the print series in the context of the artist’s other work; Jane Lee, whose comprehensive text unravels the iconography and charts the sources of the imagery in the wider history of ideas; and Arthur Watson, who describes the technical aspects of the work.

Published by Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen  1996 ISBN 0 952 3608 2 9