Right to Left, Water, Left to Right
Photography: Layli Rakhsha
I am looking at a series of very small paintings. Many things are in a state of inversion. These are big landscapes made small. They are paintings begun with a camera. These paintings contain writing that springs forth from the right of a body of water before making its way left in an uninterrupted flow. My words move in the opposite direction, emerging from the left of the cursor, building sentences about the paintings of Layli Rakhsha that turn around again after touching the right margin of the page.
I am looking at words in a script I don’t understand. The landscape that holds them is more familiar; fragments of the Yilgarn plateau in the south west of Western Australia. Layli Rakhsha adjusts and reinterprets these scenes as if she is looking for something. There is another presence here, someone or something very old, something that can change shape and consistency. It is shadow one minute, light the next. It may be large at night but remain small by day. It is human, but is just as likely to vaporise into spirit. And when you grow accustomed to its murmur it declares itself through silence.
This work consists of the artist, the painting and a third presence. In these works, Rumi’s words are interwoven with this third presence. The words are carefully introduced into the image. Sometimes they are written into the solidity of rock and earth, but more significantly they are written onto/into water as if to reflect. What does this artist want to see? Is it the form of this third presence or is it herself?
Rumi’s words and Rakhsha’s delicate tendrils of paint allude to the transport of the soul and the threadlines that pass over and through every landscape. By freezing a moment photographically, the artist has been able to enter time and delineate these threads. They are the threads, not only of this life, but the one that has been and the unfurling of the one to come. Just as the eucalyptus sloughs it’s bark in expressive ribbons to reveal a smooth and ghostly trunk underneath, Layli Rakhsha unpeels the layers of these images to locate sites for poetry and sites for love. This is not love that is directed towards an object or person. This is love that is related to being and to becoming.
Water is like gold in this part of the world now. By carefully rendering these poetic images in a symbiotic relationship with this valuable resource, Layli Rakhsha is telling us about the precious things in life. These small but potent works are generous gifts to us all. If only we could drink from such water, our lives would be richer, full of poetry and inscribed with love.
Senior lecturer and coordinator of painting
Edith Cowan University