Writing in response to work displayed in the ‘Seeking the Essential’ show as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival, May 2009
Who is the third who walks always beside you”? asks T.S. Eliot in The Wasteland. “I do not know whether a man or a woman, But who is that on the other side of you”?
Rob Floyd’s art is a sustained meditation on the relationship between the human and the divine. His work seeks the essential – the nature and significance of this mysterious ‘third’. In his reaching out towards the numinous Rob shares in a rich artistic lineage, stretching back to William Blake himself:
I give you the end of a golden string
Only wind it into a ball:
It will lead you in at Heavens gate,
Built in Jerusalems wall.
As with Blake, the ‘golden string’ of Rob’s oeuvre is suffused with spiritual light. The Angel of the Last Day rolls out the scroll of judgement, not with wrath but with understanding and profound compassion for the human predicament. The religious tone of these paintings is free from dogmatic assertion and at a time when the shrill fundamentalisms of science and religion increasingly set the tone we need this balanced, harmonious vision as never before.
In Jewish tradition the existence of just ten good men keeps the world from immediate collapse. Islam has its hidden Imam, invisibly encouraging and supporting men and women of goodwill everywhere. Can there be a saving, healing role for the artist too? Baudelaire thought so. In Les Phares he hails the great painters as outstanding beacons of hope in a darkening world:
A thousand sentinels repeat the cry.
A thousand trumpets echo. Beacon-tossed
A thousand summits flare it through the sky.
A call of hunters in the jungle lost.
Rob Floyd is compiling a body of work which belongs on this level. To contemplate these paintings is to have the mind awakened, the eye entranced, the spirit quickened and the imagination set a-whirl. In returning from this hot wind to the turmoil of the street we recognise the twin tasks of art in our hectic, destructive world – to rejuvenate the wasteland and to celebrate the miracle and the glory of creation.