Still Points of a Turning World

Scenes depicted in watercolors by Russell Eponym currently on exhibit at the Ce Soir Art Gallery depict timeless places and timeless times—landscapes and cityscapes that Russell shares with us doubtless from his own experiences.

Gold River is particularly amazing. Reflections of dark vertical tree trunks and branches jutting into a vividly mottled river that reflects as well the golden sunshine. Blending from the ashen, nearly black top and bottom through brilliant golden hues to a nearly white center, the painting is an amazing depiction of the sun’s reflection on the water. The texture of smoothness in blending the colors is mindful of the smoothness of the water itself. The rhythmic repetition of the elements from left to right produces a sense of movement. The river is flowing but maintains a still point preserved in the painting.

Russell's Exhibit at Ce Soir
Russell’s Exhibit at Ce Soir

In Russell’s poetry readings, he often shares T.S. Eliot’s poetry with us. The still points achieved in Russell’s watercolors are reminiscent of Eliot’s deservedly quoted passages from “Burnt Norton”:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

The “still point” Eliot describes is a timeless point within time and space, not a fixed point, but one which can be located at any place in creation, an overlap between the finite and the infinite. Just as Eliot locates each of his Four Quartets, including “Burnt Norton” in different locales from his own life experiences, so Russell depicts a “still point” in Gold River as well as in his other paintings.

Russell often concludes his concerts with a Celtic folk song that is essentially an invitation to visit the still point of a turning world:

Will you go lassie, go?
And we’ll all go together
To pluck wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

In his poetry, in his music, and in his artwork, Russell does not actually give us the “still point of the turning world.” Instead, through his peaceful and transcendent vision, he shows us how we can locate it within ourselves and the world.

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