RUDOLF BIKKERS - Morphogenetic Fields - Lithograph+painting monoworks
Rupert Sheldrake, one of the most boundary-pushing scientists of our times, wrote on the occasion of the opening of Rudolf Bikkers’ “Morphogenetic Fields” exhibition, “I am delighted that Rudolf Bikkers has produced these striking images based on the idea of morphogenetic fields, exploring some of the fundamental processes in the emergence of natural form. “ Twenty-five years before, in his essay for the catalogue of Rudolf Bikkers’ 1982 exhibition, Icons, at the London Regional Art Gallery, Martin L. Robinson described the forms in Bikkers’ mixed-media works (colour lithographs with acrylic painting) as “biomorphic, biocentric, or, perhaps better, biodynamic.” These forms are “bursting with energy and anticipation[,], [s]ome divid[ing] in a biological or cellular way while others…explode.” A quarter-century later, Bikkers’ work remains true to Robinson’s observations. Then, as now, Bikkers’ imaginary has a “distinctively sensuous quality,” many of his works bursting with fecund pod-like forms. Now, as then, his images are “crystallizations of…shapes conceived in his fantasies or imagination, suspended in a weightless state giving the viewer an awareness of space.”
There is, thus, a marked consistency of project and sensibility that connects the dots of the graceful trajectory that is Rudolf Bikkers’ art. But the subject-matter of his dreamings of the bio-fantastic has evolved. The preoccupation in earlier work tended to be with the inner life of the microscopic organism, including morphogenesis (intra-organism biological processes that generate tissue shape and biological form in plant and animal embryos). In the several years leading up to the creation of the “Morphogenetic Fields” series, Bikkers has become fascinated by hypotheses that morphogenesis may either exist as a phenomenon, or be extended as a metaphorical idea, beyond the physical to the psychic realm and beyond the single organism to inter-organism connectedness. Influenced by the ideas and writings of biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake*, Bikkers’ new series of work engaged the premise that “morphogenetic fields” may explain both how knowledge can be transmitted between organisms and why behaviour based on that knowledge can be quite suddenly widely emulated within a species – despite there being no known physical connection or communication linking an initial setting (in which knowledge and associated behaviour are first generated) and a new setting (in which they appear, inexplicably, to be replicated). At their most far-reaching, hypotheses of “morphic resonance” postulate not only spiritual interconnections between beings but also the cumulative development of a collective consciousness as morphogenetic fields interact – with existing fields folding into emerging fields and new fields building on older ones.
With respect to the works in the Morphogenetic Fields exhibition at Craig Scott Gallery in Toronto (April 10 to May 4, 2008), Bikkers wrote:
It is the subconscious that, without fail, has consistently provided me with an unlimited supply of images and continues to do so. The forms and colours in the “Morphogenetic Fields Series,” full of tension and explosive energy, seem to reach back to the origin of life itself. The works in this exhibition represent the interpretation of these fields in the visual language that has become uniquely mine.
About the Artist
Rudolf Bikkers is a printmaker, painter, and professor of Printmaking at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) in Toronto. He was born in Hilversum, the Netherlands. His arts education involved both the visual arts and music. He received his MFA from the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, with that period of study (1960 - 1966) overlapping ten years (1956 - 1966) of studying the cello in both Hilversum and Maastricht.
In 1966, Bikkers immigrated to Canada and, very soon after, began teaching drawing at the HB Beal High School in London, Ontario (1967 - 69). He continued to reside in London until 1983 and jointly pursued his own art, a teaching career, and a printmaking business career. From 1969 to 1977, Bikkers was the Head of the Printmaking Department of Fanshawe College and then, for 1977-78, was Professor of Printmaking at the University of Western Ontario (UWO).
Towards the end of the Fanshawe College period, in 1975, he established a master-print workshop - Editions Canada Inc. - which he continued as a full-time business (along with his own printmaking and painting ) after leaving UWO, until 1983 when he accepted an appointment to OCAD (or what was then OCA, the Ontario College of Art) and moved to Toronto. For the next decade, Bikkers was Head of the Printmaking Department at OCAD, and then, from 1993 to present, continued on as Professor of Printmaking.
Rudolf Bikkers is one of the few remaining all-round master printmakers in Canada and, in lithography, is widely acknowledged as the master of masters. His artistry and printing skills – whether his own prints or the print series he has published for major artists (such as Karel Appel and Paul Jenkins) through Editions Canada – are admired worldwide.
Please go to “Rudolf Bikkers, Artist Page” to learn more about the artist.
There were 17 mixed-media works in the exhibition (colour lithographs and acrylic painting, on fine archival paper), each work 30” x 40” before framing. The works are named serially, “Morphogenetic Fields I”, “Morphogenetic Fields II”, and so on. As well, as a centerpiece for the show, there was a large painting on canvas, entitled “Release,” which was created in 2008 over the course of several months using Bikkers’ painstaking micro-brushstrokes and complex layering; on opening night, this painting was acquired by a European collector.
A 24-page catalogue was prepared for the exhibition. Contact the gallery to secure a copy, either as a PDF or the print version that can be mailed by post.
*Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project for research on unexplained human and animal abilities under the auspices of Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK. Subject of CBC Ideas, June 23, 2006, for his ideas in The Sense of Being Stared At, And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (2003) and January 30, 2008, in the series “How to Think About Science.” Author of A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation (1981), The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature (1988), Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999), and (with Matthew Fox) The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science and Spirit Meet (1996).