Art or alchemy? Or both?
The works on show as part of the VÄXT exhibition in Lund are evidently inanimate works of art. As such they may come as a disappointment to those who had imagined that they might have emanated from some alchemical process that entrained the life force into copper. Sure, there is some tinkering with chemicals to obtain a panoply of spectacular colours, but it is not alchemy. So this is purely art, isn't it?
At heart alchemy is about transformation. Transformation of matter, transformation of self. The former has laid the foundations of a sizeable chunk of modern experimental science. The latter has contributed new dimensions to humankind's spiritual explorations. Transformation does not happen when things are in stasis. It is a process. It requires a material that will be the subject of transformation. It also requires energy to achieve the transformation, and, as a minimum, it requires a tension between two contrasting states.
In the case of this exhibition, the material that is transformed is copper. While it may seem obvious that it undergoes a chemical transformation through the processes of patination, this is a relatively trivial one. The actual transformation is a deeper and more subtle process that is in fact a co-transformation. The artist conceives a vision of pure emotion, which they sketch in their imagination through form, colour and movement. The process of patination, the use of chemicals, is one that seeks to connect the physical form of copper with the intangible creation that exists in the mind of the artist. This is a process fraught with pitfalls that often fails. But when it succeeds, the emotional energy that the artist created infuses the copper, whose form and colours give emotion materiality and solidity. Hence two materials, two objects, the raw copper and the artist's vision are united, and through this union create a new being, an new whole.
Surely, this is alchemy in its truest and most pure form?