Black line is a literal reference to the black line in art, regardless of medium, thickness, weight, length, straight or curved, yet used with deliberate intent for blackness with definition.

The black line, on recent reflection, is fundamental to my work as a painter. This is an exploration into the possible reasons why the black line has become the bedrock of so much of my work to date, yet this in no way constitutes a thesis on the matter, merely a notebook of ideas that occur on the go.

Resisting the Black Line
Of late, I am embracing the compulsion to structure my work with the black line, realizing that resistance is futile, that this is simply the way I paint. This may sound like an obvious realization, yet I have resisted this for many years, why? After all, the black line is a simple solution, and culturally we are reminded that simple is often best. Yet like zen philosophy, we may need to go the long way around and experience the obstacles of pain, before ultimately accepting simple and equally elusive knowledge as our own.

Oriental Art
Mastery of the black line is plainly evident in Japanese and Chinese culture. With extensive practice over thousands of years, creative grace and wisdom flows through the genetic bloodline and onto the page. It is therefore hardly surprising that oriental art commands both our attention and admiration; much commitment has been exercised to achieve mastery of the black line. The Enso, an empty circle made with a single brush stroke in black ink, suggests infinity, the circular nature of life and time, and a symbol of zen philosophy, yet remains simply a black line without end, or beginning.

Polynesian Tattoo
Tuhuna is the name given to the Tattoo Master and priest on the Marquesas Islands.
Indigenous Polynesian style tattoo is highly graphic, strongly geometric in black ink, and symbolic in accord with cultural beliefs. Black colour block and line drawing in combination – an evocative art of a primal sort and yet sophisticated in such a way that suggests human knowledge lost to modern times. England’s crop circle designs over the past couple decades are at times highly reminiscent of the Marquesas tattoo. Polynesian, Aboriginal and other indigenous creation stories overlap with regard to cosmic origin, believing the human to be of star seed. Polynesian tattoo has an other-worldly quality, a cosmic feel that is at least as mysterious, if not more so, as Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sumerian cuneiform. Aboriginal origins may be at least 40,000 years old, where as Polynesian roots are rumoured to be over 100,000 years old. Indigenous tattoo could be one of our most ancient art forms, originating with the black line.

 Last Edit: 11 May 2016
Published: 28 April 2016