Currently open at the Third Eye Gallery, curated by Jaz (Jessamine2108), is an exhibition of art by Zia Branner entitled EUNOIA, drawing on the ancient Greek word.
Essentially meaning “beautiful thinking, a well mind”, the word’s usage is more complicated than that. Originally, it was applied to the art of oration, and the need for speakers to cultivate a sense of goodwill between themselves and their audiences to encourage a better reception of their ideas and / or viewpoint. However, Aristotle used it to define the foundations for an ethical existence: the kindness and benevolence flowing between spouses. In this, it might be taken to mean approval, sympathy and readiness to help.
Both Isocrates, and (later) Cicero leaned towards a more political usage of the term (eúnoiã, in the case of the latter): as a means to describe an individual’s feelings toward party, or the city-state, and the benevolence in which the city-state or party so hold city-state should bear towards the honest citizens, and allow them their right to hold an opinion. Much more recently, it is used as a means of referencing good mental health and general good disposition.
It is in terms of finding that mental balance and our desire / need / want / struggle to achieve it that Zia presents this collection of her art. Presented in her familiar mix of abstract and impressionistic work, these are piece in which – as the artist notes in her introduction to to this exhibition – the ebb and flow of colours (for Zia, red and blue) represent the ebb and flow of our emotions in that drive to try to achieve that sense of equilibrium.
In all lives from time to time it isn’t easy to have a mind in balance. We have our downs, we have our challenges. There is cold, there is warmth. Our strength then lays in our goodwill, in our kindness and with this the balance in our mind and our well being goes up again.
– Zia Branner
There is something faintly ironic in the idea that “balance” is something that should be sought after; the idea that we must strive for it through meditation or study or exercise or whatever so often can lead to frustration or annoyance that the calming balance we desire remains tantalisingly out of reach. Yet through art we can find that balance, be it as the artist or the witness. For the artist, the act of creating art can be a harmonising act; bringing the disparate parts of self together to present a finished work; for the witness, it presents the opportunity to become lost within the flow of a piece of art, to naturally put aside consciousness of self, and thus achieve that inner equilibrium.
All of this is present in the 11 images offered in this collection. Whether you see the expressions of mood / emotion in Zia’s red and blue or other colours or whether to see the expression of a coastal scene or of a daydream matters not; these are pictures in which it is easy to lose oneself in the flow of colour or the contrast of hard and soft line – and in doing so, perhaps find a balance of thought for yourself.
- Third Eye Gallery (Ravenglass, rated Moderate)