Textured Background by Ros Paton Bitten by Ros Paton

The strange attraction of beauty
and impermanence

Australian artist Ros Paton has been exploring themes of impermanence in the urban environment for twenty-five years. Her paintings and collages leap from these pages, and her article leads us through a personal history of the cities and buildings that provided her with the raw material for her portrayal of the circumventing of the decay process in the modern city.

Years ago I went to a psychic with a friend as a bit of a joke. The psychic told me three things that had a profound impact on me, and to this day I see his words before my eyes and remember that sinking feeling associated with his revelation:

1. I will struggle all my life against being seen as glib rather than profound;

2. I am strangely attracted to and affected by beauty in all forms;

3. I may only have a short life that ends in middle age.

To varying degrees these statements have underpinned my philosophy of living and the path of my art practice:

when combined, they serve as a rationale for my efforts to imbue my artwork with something deeper than a depiction of image, my search for beauty in all that I see, and my wish to portray the poignancy and fragility of beauty and of life itself.

Beauty and philosophy

Although “beauty” as a quality of art is perhaps seen as out of date in some circles, I believe beauty still has the ability to capture us and make us think more deeply, connecting us to an event in a way not possible by mere documentation. Perhaps as a result of the superficial nature of the popular cultural obsession with beauty in the media, and our deepening understanding of eastern philosophies, we are actually developing a deeper understanding of beauty that is more than what has become the traditional western ideal of perfection and symmetry.

I am not alone in describing beauty as the “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”, and in being less concerned with representing what the eye can see and more interested in