Signing paintings with Tim Ely

Timothy C. Ely (and Ian?)

June 9, 2010



Tim Ely and I will be opening an exhibition titled Squaring the Circle this coming Friday (August 13) at The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Opening is from 5-8 pm.  The exhibition will feature selections from several series of our collaborative paintings, including Alchemical Quills, Crucible, Squaring the Circle, and Recapitulations of Emptiness. Come if you can!


Here's an excerpt from the press release:


Please join us for the opening reception and ArtWalk on Friday, August 13 from 5-8 pm.  Meet the artists and enjoy a family friendly evening in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

The exhibition, Squaring the Circle, presents for the first time the remarkable collaborative paintings by Ian Boyden and Timothy C. Ely. Friends for over a decade, Ely and Boyden began to make collaborative paintings and books in 2005. As Boyden remarks, “Not long after I wrote the book about Tim, we began to collaborate through painting—as a form of conversation, as a way to access that which is hard to verbalize, as a way to pry open each other's heads to see what was inside.” Over the years, their collaborations have opened many avenues of exploration including ink making, book making, Taoist talismans, alchemy, sacred geometry, and relationships between Zen and particle physics. The results are powerfully direct and mysterious paintings, the likes of which have not been seen before.

The works are calligraphic—appearing to pull in forms and techniques from both the European and East Asian traditions. Boyden, who has a degree in Asian Art History, spent over a decade studying and practicing Chinese calligraphy. Ely is well known for having created his own written meta-language, which he calls cribriform. One of their painting series, titled Alchemical Quills, meditates on the potential language stored in every writing utensil. In other pieces, we are presented with giant ensos, the archetypal Zen circle of ink meditation. These circles are inhabited and intersected by strange scripts, diagrams, and geometries. The list of pigments they have used for inks is poetry in and of itself: freshwater pearl, cinnabar, gold, lapis lazuli, cuttlefish ink, meteorite dust, and copious amounts of carbon. These paintings present a unique synthesis of vision, material, and technique.

Collaborative paintings are unusual in the contemporary art world, which is usually fascinated with the individual. In this context, the paintings by Boyden and Ely are all that much more intriguing. So unified are their respective contributions, that it is hard to determine who did what in each piece. However, below the surface of each painting, one senses a great reservoir of respect these two artists have for each other. What began as a gift each artist gave to the other, they are now in turn presenting to us.